Latest: Taoiseach describes shelving of Apple data centre plans as 'regrettable'

Update:5pm Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the decision by Apple to shelve its plans for a data centre in Athenry as "regrettable".

However, he said that the news should not come as a great shock,

"It is very regrettable, it's probably not all that surprising given the inordinate delays and the fact they (Apple) have built data centres in Denmark instead, so we will certainly have a discussion with Apple about the possibility of them selling that on to another company who might use it as a data centre into the future," he said.

"But, it's a real blow, I know, to Athenry and more generally to the West," he said.

Update - 11.53am: Apple's scrapping of data centre plans 'a permanent black mark against Athenry'

Apple's decision to shelve its plans for a multi-million euro data centre in East Galway has been described as a "hammer blow" for the area.

It was set to create hundreds of jobs but has faced lengthy legal efforts to block it on environmental grounds.

Paul Keane from the group 'Athenry for Apple' says it is devastating.

Mr Keane said: "It is a permanent black mark against Athenry, but it's also a huge blow for the country when we have a system that allows for delays to go on for so, so long that who is going to come after the biggest company in the world?

"Who is going to build any sites around the west of Ireland? It's a huge blow."

Local Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte also said it is devastating: "In the last three years it has been mired in a council, in planning, in Bord Pleanala and in the courts system, riddled with objections.

"The people of Athenry have marched, they've protested, they have shown that they are open for Apple, and yet again the people of Athenry have been let down this morning."

9.13am: Apple scraps plans for Athenry data centre

Technology giant Apple has announced it will not pursue its plans to build a new data centre in Athenry, Co Galway.

Objectors to the proposed €850m facility had decided to take their case to the Supreme Court in December.

It followed a High Court judgement in November that seemed to pave the way for works to begin.

Apple had planed to build a state-of-the-art data centre on a 500 acre Coillte-owned site just outside Athenry.

However, a number of local residents raised concerns about the potential environmental impact of the project and accused An Bord Pleanála of not carrying out a proper assessment.

The Commercial Court also ruled against the objectors in October.

An artists' impression of the now-scrapped data centre.

The company statement said: "We’ve been operating in Ireland since 1980 and we're proud of the many contributions we make to the economy and job creation. In the last two years we've spent over €550 million with local companies and, all told, our investment and innovation supports more than 25,000 jobs up and down the country.

We're deeply committed to our employees and customers in Ireland and are expanding our operations in Cork, with a new facility for our talented team there.

"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.

"While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.”

Business Minister Heather Humphreys has said she regrets the decision.

The Minister said: "I very much regret that Apple will not be pursuing its plans to construct a data centre in Athenry, especially as the project would have been a source of significant investment and job creation for Galway and the West of Ireland.

"Notwithstanding this bad news, I welcome that Apple have confirmed that they are strongly committed to their existing operations in Ireland."

"The Government recognises the important role that data centre investments can - and still will - have in contributing to economic growth and job creation in Ireland.

"That’s why we agreed, in October 2017, to the implementation of a strengthened policy framework to support their continued development.

"That framework includes a number of actions which, once fully implemented, will help us attract and sustain such investments in the future, especially in regional locations."

- Digital Desk

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