back to article Score one for the bats and badgers! Apple bins €850m Irish bit barn bid

Apple has torn up a blueprint to build a €850m (£742m) data centre in Ireland, blaming delays in the planning process that have stalled the project for almost three years. The Cupertino-HQ'd biz announced plans for 166,296m2 (1.79 million ft2) Galway-based bit barn in 2015, intending to use green energy sources to sate its …

  1. Alan Bourke

    Our lunatic planning process

    writ large.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Our lunatic planning process

      No. it's Ireland's (if you are Irish, sorry) planning process working as it should and NOT riding slipshod over the concerns of the local population and not allowing corporations to vandalise the environment.

      Ripping up woodland is never a "green option" no matter where you get your power from.

      1. Caff

        Re: Our lunatic planning process

        Have you seen an ariel photograph of the site? Not much woodland on it, large patches of leeched land from a former confier forestry. The main objector was a guy from wicklow who was trying to get Apple to build the data centre on his land there instead.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Our lunatic planning process

          Hasn't Ireland abandoned industrial sites to redevelop, instead of letting them rotting slowly and become dangerous areas? I understand builder prefer virgin land because it costs far less to build upon, but it's time to start from re-using already developed but abandoned land - before it's too late. If needed, make more economical by subsidizing some way the costs of demolishing unused buildings and reclaim the land.

      2. Boork!

        Re: Our lunatic planning process

        The majority of the local population actually wanted the data center to be built. If anyone was "riding slipshod" over their concerns, it was the two activists who pursued the objection.

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Our lunatic planning process

      Oh, Alan, you don't know the half of it...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tax cuts in the US...

    .... meant Apple has now less needs to buy consensus abroad. Money also has to be put in buybacks to make shareholder (included executives...) richer.

    If you country relies only on attracting foreign companies because of very low taxes, and knowing you'll knee to every request of theirs, you're be dependent on the slightest breeze of changes, and winds may not always be favourable. Also Brexit made Ireland a less useful cheaper but close alternative to Britain.

  3. Major N

    360mW? Guess it is just a single iPhone X sitting on a velvet cushioned plinth under a single spotlingt

    1. Chunky Munky
      Boffin

      0.36W???? They could generate more power by scuffing their feet on a nylon carpet

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Obviously 360mW is the estimate of total power requirement on which they have to pay a carbon levy ... possibly

        I would hope that the green energy was not to be bio-mass derived using rotting apples as that would have been so deeply ironic that the US based Jobs-worths wouldn't get the joke ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ah! That is the 'green' energy that comes via the grid from coal fired power stations then.

          Since there is no separate green energy grid no one can tell if they are getting green energy or not and all of the green energy has to be supported by non green energy suppliers (see http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ )

  4. Cuddles Silver badge

    Badger badger badger badger

    Maybe Apple should consider England instead? The bribes tax breaks aren't quite so good, but many in the government are already desperate to shoot every badger they can find.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Badger badger badger badger

      plus it will be able to be powered by Johnson and Moggs hot air when they finish up f*cking us over on Brexit.

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Badger badger badger badger

      "Maybe Apple should consider England instead?"

      Don't be daft. They are tax dodgers.

      Last I looked they are shifting to booking their worldwide sales through Guernsey or Jersey. One of the "inner" British tax havens anyway.

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Badger badger badger badger

      Maybe Apple should consider England instead?

      Yes, HM Government will not badger you for taxes and equitable employment conditions

  5. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Surely it was because Apple realised Ireland would need to be covered in solar panels to get enough juice to power their site. Ireland is no California when it comes to sunshine.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Happy

      Ireland is no California when it comes to sunshine.

      I have seen solar panels in Orkney. I imagine that Ireland has the sun higher in the sky making them even more efficient (or less inneficient).

      I prefer wind turbines. The whole UK is windy and the further north the more you get. It also sends nimbys ballistic!

      1. Bob Magoo

        Re: Ireland is no California when it comes to sunshine.

        Ireland is not in the UK

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Ireland is no California when it comes to sunshine.

        I've always said that Ireland is the perfect place for data centres due to how it's cold, flat, windy and rainy.

        But it would have been more correct to say that the British Isles are windy - the western one particularly so.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Ireland is no California when it comes to sunshine.

          Entire weeks with no wind over most of western Europe, inc Ireland. Wind needs 100% backup of other sources and isn't scaleable to much more than 10% when it is there.

          Also weeks with grey sky or rain. West of Ireland has about x6 the rainfall of Dublin. There is already about as much hydroelectric as is feasible. Ireland is pretty flat in the middle with most mountains around the edges. Hence bogs.

          Iceland is a better choice for datacentres. Or Northern France. Ireland is only an artificial choice.

  6. Vinyl-Junkie
    Joke

    I feel a song coming on...

    Slowed by the citizens of Athenry

    Where once we watched the Apple execs try

    To build a data thing

    They had taxes and "incentives" to bring

    It's still so lovely in the fields of Athenry

    1. M. Poolman

      Re: I feel a song coming on...

      Beat me to it! Have an upvote.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I feel a song coming on...

      Given the title of the article how about this one : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OADwd5gOpCE

      Is there any way to generate power with rain?

      Ireland could become a World leader if there is.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I feel a song coming on...

        Is there any way to generate power with rain?

        By building some sort of massive concrete wall across the end of a valley, letting all the rain build up in some sort of artificial lake behind it and then let it run out through some sort of turbine ?

        Sounds like typical pie-in-the sky greenwash magic-unicorn thinking

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: I feel a song coming on...

          Hydro power has too many consequences.

          But unicorns might work!

  7. nematoad Silver badge

    I see.

    "...underlined our need to make the State's planning and legal processes more efficient."

    Or in other words, "Let's try and ram this through despite local opposition."

    Checks and balances are essential if we are to stop big corporations just taking anything they want.

  8. DJO Silver badge

    How green are those apples granny Smith?

    So Apple consider themselves "green" and want to rip up some ancient woodland to prove how nice they are.

    Do these people even stop to think about what they are doing or is it a case of "we're Apple, what we do is right by definition so fuck everybody else".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ancient woodland

      When I went past the proposed site a couple of years ago, it had been clear felled. i.e. there was nothing over 6ft high standing. Ancient woodland? Well some lumberjack had gotten their first and plundered the timber.

      Never mind Dublin, you can make sure that these very same objectors don't drive Amazon away as well.

      Hey Apple, I'm sure that the 'North' would let you build your DC if you really wanted to put one on the Island of Ireland.

  9. ObSolutions, Inc

    Why do countries want to host data centers anyway?

    They are a huge drain on space and energy resources, and don't offer much in return when it comes to employment. Once built, I doubt it takes more than 20 or 30 people to run it.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why do countries want to host data centers anyway?

      Because you get to tax all the profits that the data center makes

      Unless you are Ireland, or Luxemburg, or Britain

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The "local" opposition consisted of about 4 people. At least one of which was a Dublin-based (another part of Ireland) businessman with an alternative site! The vast majority of the locals - someone correct me if it's less than 99% wanted it to go ahead, not so much for direct employment, but for all the services and ecosystem that would have built around it.

    The reality is that now the site will probably end up going to a company far less environmentally conscious than apple!

    This is an affront to democracy and a further example of how a few people with enough money can use the legal system to put their personal objectives above those who live around them.

    1. M. Poolman

      Evidence?

      Can you provide any evidence for these assertions?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Evidence?

        "Brian McDonagh is one of three brothers who, in 2007, paid €22 million for land in Wicklow, funded by Ulster Bank. They applied for permission for “the world’s largest data centre”, using a company, Ecologic Data Centres."

        Source Irish Times 28 Oct 2016

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Evidence?

          > Ecologic Data Centres

          Nowadays you can really sell anything

          I wonder whether that "renewable energy" talk does even make sense, I suspect you could fill the datacenter with oil about 50 times just to build the goods that go into it, then do it again after 3 years when the upgrade cycle hits.

          Might as well throw in a jijawatt nuke or two, it would preclude having to build those windmills.

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Sark Lark

    Apple could probably afford to buy Sark and put the DC there - and tailor the tax and company law the exact way they want it. The bit flaw with this is that it would mean Apple declaring that they are tax resident in one place, as opposed to no place.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Sark Lark

      I seriously doubt the Barclays would sell their little private fiefdom.

  12. Mage Silver badge

    Planning Objections

    Yes, the Wicklow guy was self interest.

    However this was Apple ego. There are plenty of sites already serviced, close enough to existing likely employees and far more suitable.

    Yes, there wasn't much forest, but Ireland has an even lower amount of percentage forest than the UK, which has one of the lowest in Europe. Losing any land to a datacentre is crazy when plenty of existing space is available. Shannon Industrial estate. Three Industrial estates in Limerick. Nenagh. Very many other places. But not "posh" enough for Apple.

    ~

    I see Apple and Eircom have moved their Europe / Ireland HQs to Jersey to take advantage of UK's lax offshore Tax havens now that Ireland is actually going to charge the Corporate Tax they claim to. Apple was paying about 1/100th of Ireland's official Corporate Rate. EU is finally clamping down. Is it the real reason some top Tories want hard Brexit? UK is sovereign over more offshore havens than any other nation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Planning Objections

      Who cares about "posh" for a datacenter? It isn't like customers go there...

      Paying a higher tax rate in Ireland makes it a BETTER deal to spend money there, since they get a bigger deduction and thus pay fewer taxes. The only reason for putting the datacenter elsewhere tax-wise would be if they can get a lower tax rate somewhere else in the EU. That seems unlikely given the EU clamped down on Ireland's special arrangements, so other countries won't be able to offer them either.

      The reason they were spending money there was because they wanted to stay in Ireland's good graces and keep the sweet deal going. That deal is gone, but through no fault of the Irish government, and Apple already has thousands of employees at other locations in the country so it would still make sense to build a datacenter there if they could get approval.

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