Tech giant Apple has announced that it is not going to proceed with its planned data centre in Athenry, Co Galway. In a statement, the company said that delays in the planning approval process had forced it to scrap its initial plans.
Business group Dublin Chamber has reacted to the news, stating that the scrapping of the plans should serve as a wake-up call regarding the need to reform Ireland’s planning regime. The group believes that a number of planning reforms are required to facilitate commercial, residential and infrastructure development in Ireland.
According to Dublin Chamber CEO, Mary Rose Burke: “The Apple situation highlights why a greater amount of certainty needs to be introduced into the planning process. As a country, we are at risk of becoming uncompetitive with other jurisdictions if we cannot improve the efficiency our planning process by making it speedier and less legalistic. Reforms are required regarding the rights of third parties to appeal against a planning decision by a planning authority.”
Apple, however, added in its statement that, while disappointing, the setback would not dampen its enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland. This point has been welcomed by Chambers Ireland, as CEO Ian Talbot sets out: “Apple’s confirmation that they remain fully committed to their existing operations in Ireland is greatly appreciated and a continued vote of confidence in Ireland’s strength as a top location for Foreign Direct Investment globally. However, delays in planning undermine our national competitiveness. At a time when we face great uncertainty from issues outside our control, such as Brexit and a worrying growth in protectionist measures, it is vital that we act to improve areas within our control particularly as we embark on the vitally important Ireland 2040 program.”