Greens force Apple to fell Ireland data centre plans
Dublin: US tech giant Apple announced on Thursday it had shelved plans to build an 850-million-euro ($1.0-billion) data centre in Ireland over a court battle with conservationists seeking to preserve a forest.
"Several years ago we applied to build a data centre at Athenry. Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre," the company said in a statement.
"While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow."
The Silicon Valley giant believed it had got the green light in October when a High Court judge dismissed appeals brought by three campaigners, who were concerned about the environmental impact of the project which was to occupy nearly 166,000 square meters (nearly 1.8 million square metres), or roughly 40 Premier League football pitches, in County Galway, west Ireland.
But the campaigners won last week their Supreme Court bid for their appeal to be heard, delaying the process even further.
Apple said it was "proud of the many contributions we make" to the Irish economy, and insisted it was still "deeply committed to our employees and customers" in Ireland.
The project, which was first announced three years ago, would have been the biggest private investment in western Ireland.
Apple has its European headquarters based in the southern Irish city of Cork, but has run into problems in the country. The Irish government last month said it was signing a deal for the US tech giant to pay 13 billion euros in back taxes as ordered by the European Commission, which said it had received favourable terms that amounted to state aid.
The government claimed that Apple has paid the full amount due to the Irish state from 2004 to 2014 and denies it gave it "selective treatment".
But the European Commission said Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 0.005 per cent on its European profits in 2014 — equivalent to just 50 euros for every million.
Paul Keane, founder of Facebook group "Athenry for Apple", which comprises 6,000 members, called the decision "an absolute hammer blow to the locality and to rural