Irish PM says future of $1 billion Apple data center uncertain

A 3D printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed Irish flag. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A planned $1 billion Apple data center is in doubt after Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the U.S. company’s Chief Executive Tim Cook would no longer commit to it, adding that Dublin would do whatever necessary to get it built.

Apple announced plans in February 2015 to build the facility in a rural location in the west of Ireland to take advantage of green energy sources nearby, but the project has faced a two-year delay due to planning objections.

In a meeting on Thursday, Cook did not commit to going ahead with it, Varadkar told state broadcaster RTE.

“We didn’t get a start date, or a definite commitment or anything like that,” said Varadkar, who is on a tour of the United States to meet investors, adding he had told Cook that the government would do “anything within our power” to facilitate the resumption of the project.

Ireland relies on foreign multinational companies like Apple for the creation of one in every 10 jobs across the economy and sees major investments such as data centers as a means of securing their presence in the country.

Apple did not respond to an e-mail query asking about whether it was committed to the project.

A similar Apple center announced at the same time in Denmark is due to begin operations later this year and Apple in July announced it would build its second EU data center there.

The government has said it is considering amending its planning laws to include data centers as strategic infrastructure, thus allowing them to get through the planning process much more quickly.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Alexander Smith