Construction halted at Apple datacentre in Denmark over alleged contractor dispute, report suggests

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Construction of Apple’s first non-US datacentre has ground to a halt in Foulum, Denmark, over a contractor dispute, a regional media report suggests.

According to a report by Viborg Stifts Folkeblad, workers at the site were notified at the end of last week of a site shutdown from Monday 15 April, with sources telling the publication that workers were instructed to take all their tools and equipment home on Friday as a result.

An earlier report on the site suggests between 300 to 500 construction workers were employed at the site, from Denmark and overseas, and do not know if and when they will be returning to work.

The report goes on to claim the shutdown is the result of Apple cancelling its construction contract with Irish engineering firm Exyte, over a series of missed deadlines.

It’s claimed the firm was initially on course to complete the project by September 2018, but this date slipped to April 2019. Nevertheless, the site is still set to go online.

Computer Weekly contacted Apple and Exyte for clarification and comment on this story, but had received no response from the former party at the time of writing, while a spokesperson for the latter provided the following statement: “We are not entitled to communicate about any customer relationship in accordance with internal guidelines and guidelines from contracts with our customers and partners.” 

Once completed, the facility is on course to become the first datacentre the consumer electronics giant has built outside of the US, although it is unclear now when it will become operational.

When the project was first announced in February 2015, Apple said the 166,000 square metre facility would be on course for completion by 2017, and would be used to host and deliver several core services to consumers across Europe, including iMessage, Maps and Siri.

Incidentally, the February 2015 announcement also featured details of Apple’s now abandoned plan to build a second, similarly-sized European datacentre in Athenry, County Galway, Ireland.

Having initially secured planning permission for the project at local council level, a series of objections and appeals against the project resulted in a four-year legal tussle over whether or not Apple could start work at the site.

As a direct result of this, Apple confirmed in May 2018 that it would no longer be building its planned datacentre in Athenry, but said the experience would not dampen its business expansion plans in Ireland as a whole.

Last week, the Irish Supreme Court confirmed it had dismissed an appeal by two longstanding objectors to the project, who claimed planning permission for the project should never have been granted without a more rigorous assessment of the environment impact of the build taking place.

While Apple has officially called time on the project, it still owns the site, and the conclusion of the four-year legal wrangle over the project has prompted hopes in the local community that another tech firm might take over the site and build a datacentre there in due course.



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