Apple Responds to Concern over Irish Data Centre’s Environmental Impact

Apple’s plans to build a new data centre in County Galway in Ireland have faced delays, as citizens of the community have raised concerns over its environmental impact. A leaked Apple document obtained by Business Insider reveals the company’s response to the allegations, underscoring that the data centre is “vital” to the company’s future expansion plans.

Data centre

Robert Sharpe, senior director of global data centre services at Apple, tried to convince the more than 100 people that attended a hearing which began on Tuesday. Sharpe opened with a statement explaining why the data centre is needed:

Around the world, use of the internet continues to grow rapidly; annual global internet traffic is expected to treble over the next three years and more than quadruple over the next five years.

Apple is experiencing huge demand for our hugely popular services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud; every day our data centres handle tens of billions of messages, more than a billion photos, and tens of millions of FaceTime video calls.

[…] Apple needs to add data centre capacity on a phased basis to provide the necessary processing and storage resources needed to meet this growing number of devices as well as the increased use of current and future devices.

The planned facility would be built over the next 10–15 years and include eight data halls, making Apple Ireland’s single largest energy consumer.

“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 hearing comes in response to Irish planning body An Bord Pleanála’s request that Apple respond to a number of objections both from individuals and organizations regarding the proposed facility. These objections range from the impact on the local population of bats and badgers to the flood impact on a neighbouring golf course.