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Over a year after announcing its plan to spend $2 billion on new data centers in Ireland and Denmark, Apple is now defending its decision for the former location amidst rising concern that its state-of-the-art facilities will have negative effects on local animal populations, and could lead to potential flooding concerns on a neighboring golf course (via Business Insider).

Irish planning body An Bord Pleanála managed to temporarily halt construction of the Ireland-based data center thanks to these concerns, which were brought to it by a number of individuals and organizations. Its biggest question was asking why Apple chose the middle of Derrydonnell forest in Galway County, Ireland as its planned site for the server farm, given that there are other places in Ireland designated specifically for data center construction.

apple_nc_data_center_solar.jpg
Solar panels at Apple's data center in Maiden, North Carolina​

Apple's senior director of global data center services, Robert Sharpe, explained the vital nature of the European data centers as part of Apple's continued expansion and support for its various services like the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Sharpe said that Apple must pursue this phased development (the Derrydonnell Forest center would be constructed over 10-15 years) to continue to accommodate for more smartphones, more services, and more users expecting quality experiences out of both.
"Derrydonnell forest, the site of the proposed development, offers a combination of factors that make it uniquely attractive for a data centre," Sharpe said. "It is a large site, currently used for commercial forestry, which sits extremely close to two major high voltage power transmission lines in an area rich in renewable energy resources."
During the hearing, Sharpe also addressed the environmental concerns raised by locals of the county, claiming that there would be both limited visual pollution to the area thanks to the thickness of the forestry, and that Apple would replenish any wildlife it removed during construction.
"The site presents us with an ideal opportunity to develop a very large, sustainable data centre, which meets our projected needs over the next 10 to 15 years. The woodland will enable us to make the site largely invisible beyond the site and we are able to improve the overall biodiversity of the site by increasing the proportion of native broadleaf trees."
The site in Ireland is planned to consist of eight total buildings each housing thousands of servers for Apple's various online services. The company's original planning application -- which has now been halted by An Bord Pleanála -- is for just one of the eight buildings, so it will have to reapply for each future planned expansion over the next estimated 10-15 years. There was no word yet on the outcome of the hearing in Ireland.

Sharpe address the various concerns presented to Apple -- including flooding issues and water drainage plans -- in his full opening statement.

Article Link: Apple Defends 15-Year Development Plan for Irish Data Center Amidst Environmental Concerns
 

LordQ

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Sep 22, 2012
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Loving Apple's environmental approach, why is Samsung not copying this?
 

michaelant

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Apr 8, 2006
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It's in the middle of a forest so the NSA will have a harder time infiltrating it.

Good luck with that.
 

H2SO4

macrumors 603
Nov 4, 2008
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Ok, so. Now it may seem that I have a reputation for ragging on Apple, but I do still prefer and buy their products so it’s not all negative.
Can anybody explain with GOOD reason, ‘why Apple chose the middle of Derrydonnell forest in Galway County, Ireland as its planned site for the server farm, given that there are other places in Ireland designated specifically for data center construction.’.
To me it appears that they are going to destroy the environment whilst there are already brownfield sites available for them.
 

Shirasaki

macrumors P6
May 16, 2015
15,804
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If Apple is a company pursuing the vision of "Green IT", then this DA (could I say that?) should be reconsidered.
Destroyed wildlife would be extremely difficult to "replenish" given no one can guarantee he knows everything about "destroyed wildlife".
I assume Apple knows "Biosphere 2" and its ultimate failure. Therefore, I doubt Apple would actually will spend billions to recover the "destroyed wildlife". This is not Sichuan, China. Heck, environment at there is fragile anyway.
 

Bigsk8r

macrumors 6502
Nov 28, 2011
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Austin, Texas
Ok, so. Now it may seem that I have a reputation for ragging on Apple, but I do still prefer and buy their products so it’s not all negative.
Can anybody explain with GOOD reason, ‘why Apple chose the middle of Derrydonnell forest in Galway County, Ireland as its planned site for the server farm, given that there are other places in Ireland designated specifically for data center construction.’.
To me it appears that they are going to destroy the environment whilst there are already brownfield sites available for them.

The reasons they chose the site are spelled out in the article.

Also, just because some politicians at a local or regional level took an old section of town and said "data centers go here" does not mean that any forward planning or infrastructure (power & water) have been improved enough to support a large one.
 
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anthonylambert

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Mar 20, 2002
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It's a lot of effort to go to so no one can see that you don't use Apple branded computers in your data center....
 

69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
Also, just because some politicians at a local or regional level took an old section of town and said "data centers go here" does not mean that any forward planning or infrastructure (power & water) have been improved enough to support a large one.

Nope. Not even close. Ireland has at least 15 data centers, including centers for MS, Google, Amazon, and fairly soon Facebook. So the infrastructure is there, and that infrastructure can support a large data center. Multiple larger ones actually. Apple has their reasons for wanting to build where they want to build. Lack of infrastructure in the designated areas for data centers is not one of those reasons.
 
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macfacts

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Oct 7, 2012
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The reasons they chose the site are spelled out in the article.

Also, just because some politicians at a local or regional level took an old section of town and said "data centers go here" does not mean that any forward planning or infrastructure (power & water) have been improved enough to support a large one.

You think the current power and water infrastructure in the forest is better than what they have in place for that "old section" of town?
 

RedOrchestra

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Aug 13, 2012
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WOW ... Apple seems to be going full-bore at un-endearing themselves throughout the world - never good to get the yet another bully American tag.
 
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H2SO4

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Nov 4, 2008
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The reasons they chose the site are spelled out in the article.

Also, just because some politicians at a local or regional level took an old section of town and said "data centers go here" does not mean that any forward planning or infrastructure (power & water) have been improved enough to support a large one.
So that’s no.
 

smacrumon

macrumors 68030
Jan 15, 2016
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That's it. In the face of considered opposition, Apple just plows straight ahead. This truely solidifies my view that Apple is becoming the McDonald's of the tech industry. All marketing glow and shine and no substance.
 
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Kabeyun

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Mar 27, 2004
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Wait a tick. The Irish planning body "managed to stop construction"?? Wasn't there some sort of process before they broke ground? Did they not have a chance to raise these concerns before Apple started building the thing? After all, they are the Irish planning body.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
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Won't someone think of the golfers!

Apple uses the environment as a marketing tool, others are also doing the same thing, but aren't being so vocal about it

They're not doing the same thing, though. They're doing "something" and letting people tell themselves it's "the same." (A long-time trend in Apple's competition.)
 

bstpierre

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2008
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Wait a tick. The Irish planning body "managed to stop construction"?? Wasn't there some sort of process before they broke ground? Did they not have a chance to raise these concerns before Apple started building the thing? After all, they are the Irish planning body.

Just because they halted construction does not necessarily imply that construction had begun. It is also possible that construction was approved and then the local golfers got wind of it and complained.

My guess for why they chose this spot instead of the designated data center spot is likely a large difference in real estate prices for the two areas. (just a guess on my part)
 

Marshall73

macrumors 68030
Apr 20, 2015
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Stick it out away from towns etc, lower temps, better heat exchange, lower cooling costs.
 

robotica

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Jul 10, 2007
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Come on Apple building in the middle of a Forrest is no way to save the environment.
It may be a commercial Forrest but building your data centres which are massive building there means there will be no forest at all where your buildings are.

Why not use one of the sites that have been pre approved?
 

NervousFish2

macrumors 6502
Mar 23, 2014
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Ok, some context here (I live in Ireland). The first thing to observe is that there is a general tendency towards NIMBYism in Ireland. This can be both pro- and anti-environment, depending on the situation. Some people don't want wind turbines blotting their skyline, others fear large data centers flooding their golf courses. As this is already a commercial forest, it is quite likely that it is composed entirely of non-native coniferous trees that were planted in the country, from the 1960s, onwards. These were grown largely to provide biomass for energy, and other projects. They're dreadful things, however. And in some ways, they've blocked the more serious task of building out real forest in the country (which we need, for all kinds of reasons). The planning process in Ireland is not very open, to my knowledge, but citizens do have the possibility in certain circumstances to demand hearings or inquiries, and my guess is that this is what has caused the delay here. No clue how the process will be resolved, but the Irish state has generally been quite favorable to Apple (i.e., the country is effectively a tax haven for the company!). If precedent is any indicator, this will be approved. In the end, given Apple's focus on renewable energy, that's probably closest thing to a win-win for the local environment. And the economy may benefit, too. But longer-term, Apple still have serious EU-level cases outstanding when it comes to Irish tax policy. That's the real story to watch.
 
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