Business Irish

Saturday 23 March 2019

Protests as land rezoned for €400m data centre


Big server: The data centre has been described as ‘a game-changer’ for Ennis and for Clare. Stock image
Big server: The data centre has been described as ‘a game-changer’ for Ennis and for Clare. Stock image

Gordon Deegan

Members of Clare Co Council yesterday rezoned lands for a €400m one million sq ft data centre on the outskirts of Ennis, in spite of local residents' concerns.

It will be the largest data centre in the west of Ireland. A planned 200,000 sq ft Apple data centre for Athenry did not go ahead after it was delayed.

Clare County Council has been advancing the Ennis project over the past year to facilitate a planning application to be lodged by Dublin-based firm, Art Data Centres Ltd.

In varying their County Development Plan, the councillors rezoned a 51-hectare (126-acre) site on the Tulla Road leading out of Ennis off the M18 as an enterprise zone that will be data-centre specific. 

Ahead of the councillors adopting the rezoning, the council's director of economic development, Liam Conneally, described the project as "a game-changer" for Ennis and for Clare.

According to Mr Conneally, the planned data centre will provide 1,000 construction jobs over five years and lead to 200 permanent data centre jobs. Mr Conneally said that the project will also lead to an additional 150 indirect jobs.

The council received 17 submissions in relation to its proposed rezoning.

One of those was from a 40-strong local residents group which stated that the rezoning didn't have regard to the numbers of homes that would be adversely impacted by the proposed development.

The residents' group said they were strongly objecting to the rezoning and that the council should investigate alternative 'brown-field' sites.

Other submissions stated that the developer of the centre has not put forward "any package" to property owners to address all the negative impacts the project will cause.

In his written response to the residents' specific concerns, the council's chief executive, Pat Dowling, stated that the residents can raise their concerns at the planning application stage.

The rezoning now allows the application for the centre to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála.

Irish Independent

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