Tuesday 18 September 2018

Amazon planning bid for second major data centre at former Jacob's site

Amazon's latest proposal - made on behalf of its massive cloud computing operation Amazon Web Services (AWS) by Irish registered company Amazon Data Services Ireland (ASDIL) - comes ahead of expected reform of planning laws for large data centres and follows the announcement by AWS of 1,000 new jobs for Dublin. (Nick Ansell/PA)
Amazon's latest proposal - made on behalf of its massive cloud computing operation Amazon Web Services (AWS) by Irish registered company Amazon Data Services Ireland (ASDIL) - comes ahead of expected reform of planning laws for large data centres and follows the announcement by AWS of 1,000 new jobs for Dublin. (Nick Ansell/PA)

Fearghal O'Connor

Amazon is seeking permission to build a second huge data centre at the former Jacob's biscuit site in Tallaght.

The 23,283 sq m data centre will be built next to a similarly sized facility recently completed on the Belgard Road on a site it acquired in 2014.

The new planning application for a project that is likely to see an investment of hundreds of millions of euro follows lobbying, earlier this year, of senior government officials by executives of the US firm to make large data centres eligible for the fast-track strategic infrastructure planning process. Amazon's latest proposal - made on behalf of its massive cloud computing operation Amazon Web Services (AWS) by Irish registered company Amazon Data Services Ireland (ASDIL) - comes ahead of expected reform of planning laws for large data centres and follows the announcement by AWS of 1,000 new jobs for Dublin.

Documents obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Acts (FoIA) showed that a senior unnamed Amazon executive travelled to Ireland in January and met, at Leinster House, Damien English, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as the head of the department's planning division, to discuss the planning process.

The following month, Amazon wrote to the department with suggested wording for an amendment to the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 that would see it included in the fast-track planning process data centres over 10,000 sq m, where the application is on a site exceeding 15 hectares.

The slowness of the planning process is reported to have previously led to Apple abandoning major plans for a cluster of data centres in Galway. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced plans to amend the planning framework for data centres while on a visit to Silicon Valley in 2017.

The newly proposed facility in Tallaght - the latest in a series of such AWS facilities around the city - is being developed by Dublin-based architects Kavanagh Tuite. In response to a request from South Dublin County Council (SDCC), the design of the proposed facility also enables the local authority to develop future local district heating projects using excess heat from the facility.

A recent Indecon report, commissioned by the tech giant, found that its investment in South County Dublin since 2011 has had a cumulative economic impact for the Irish economy in excess of €1.25bn and on average supported over 1,200 full-time jobs each year.

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