Apple 'won't commit' to $1 billion Ireland data centre

Taoiseach admits Tim Cook hasn't agreed to go ahead with project

Apple's Tim Cook still hasn't committed to building a data centre in Ireland costing 850 million, following a meeting between the CEO and the Republic of Ireland's Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, it is reported.

Varadkar said Apple hasn't confirmed the data centre project in Athenry, Galway is definitely going ahead, according to RT News.

When asked if Apple confirmed the project would go ahead the Irish PM said: "No, not confirmed. We didn't get a start date, or a definite commitment or anything like that.

"But certainly from our point of view, we really impressed on them very strongly how much the government is behind the project, how we will do anything within our power to facilitate it and how the people of Galway and Athenry in particular really want it to happen."

There have been numerous delays affecting the project, which Varadkar mentioned, but he underlined that the government is making changes to ensure that data centres are designated as strategic infrastructure in the future.

Apple employs more than 5,000 people in Ireland, Varadkar said, but its data centre project has met with local opposition. The High Court last week ruled against two residents' attempt to appeal an earlier ruling in favour of allowing the site project to go ahead, seemingly clearing the path for Apple to begin building the facility.

Michael Fitzmaurice, independent TD for Galway, said: "In light of the decision not to allow the appeal into the decision to grant Apple planning permission for their data centre in Athenry I hope that the company goes ahead with the development."

Fitzmaurice added: "This case once again demonstrates the need for forward planning to be made by the Government with regard to these major developments into the future".

Apple first announced its plans to construct the centre in February 2015, according to RT. The following September, Galway County Council gave it permission, subject to conditions, but this was then appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

In August last year, the planning authorities confirmed permission but three local residents objected, asking the High Court to review the decision. One of their arguments was that the planning permission was invalid as it had not carried out a proper environmental impact assessment of the development.

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