€400m data centre 'will be like having a gold mine in the area'
Plans are to be lodged for a €400m data centre on the outskirts of Ennis early next year.
The planned data centre will, at one million square feet, be the largest in the west of Ireland since the ill-fated 200,000 sq ft data centre planned by Apple for Athenry, Co Galway.
Clare County Council has been advancing the project over the past year and the planning application will be lodged by Dublin-based firm Art Data Centres Ltd.
In a presentation to members, the council's director of economic development, Liam Conneally, described the project as "a game changer".
Cllr Tom McNamara joined with Mr Conneally in visiting a Facebook data centre at Lulea, Sweden, as part of the council's preparatory work.
Lulea is now a booming town as a result of the data centre there and it has contributed to the population increasing there.
He said that if the data centre project can be delivered for Ennis and Clare "it will be the same as having a gold mine. The spin-off from this for Ennis and Clare will be unbelievable".
Mr Conneally told the council that the planned data centre on the Tulla Road leading out of Ennis off the M18 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.
Mr Conneally said that a Government minister recently told him that data is "the new oil, the new gold".
The next step in the process is for councillors to vary their development plan to rezone the lands to allow the application be lodged with An Bord Pleanála in the first half of next year.
Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said: "We are all very much aware of the lengthy planning difficulties which ultimately led to the demise of the €850m Apple data centre in Athenry."
He said the Ennis data centre planning application must not be delayed.