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Rent-free flagship HQ offered to lure EU climate agency here from England


The F2 building in Cherrywood.

The F2 building in Cherrywood.

The F2 building in Cherrywood.

Free rental of a state-of-the-art headquarters is among the enticements offered in a bid to lure Europe's flagship climate research centre to Dublin.

The Government wants Ireland to be the new home of the European Centre for Mid-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) when Brexit forces the high-tech operation and 250 of its scientists and support staff out of England.

The offer includes full and free use of the recently completed five-storey, 7,500 square metre ‘F2’ office building at The Campus business park, one of the centerpiece facilities in the huge mixed development under way at Cherrywood in south Dublin.

An “additional substantial financial package” is also being offered including contributions to operational costs, carbon off-setting for the facility and associated travel, arrangements for conference facilities and the support of a dedicated relocation team.

Staff are assured there is ample affordable housing to rent or buy within a 10km radius, a new school planned for Cherrywood and plentiful job opportunities with multinationals in Dublin for spouses and other family members.

In a video address filmed as part of the bid, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, says: “The Irish Government will fully support the European Centre’s relocation to Dublin and is committed to ensuring a smooth transition to a new facility in Ireland.”

Ireland is up against several other EU countries for the high-profile centre which employs more than 370 scientists, IT workers and other staff, the majority at Reading in England.

The centre provides crucial weather forecasting services but also runs several of the EU’s Copernicus programmes including climate research, air quality and fire, flood and drought risk assessment.

It boasts one of the world’s largest supercomputing facilities and is set to play an increasingly important role in researching and preparing for the erratic impacts of climate change on weather.

The bid is backed by Science Foundation Ireland, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Met Éireann, universities and academics and would provide a major boost to Ireland’s science, IT and technology communities as well as enhancing the country’s position as a base for cutting edge climate research and education.

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Professor Peter Thorne, climatologist at Maynooth University, said it would be “fantastic” to have the centre and its experts relocate here.

The cost of hosting the centre has not been disclosed. The Department of the Taoiseach referred the question to the Department of Housing which has not yet responded, although the rent alone on a building like F2 could, pre-Covid, have cost up to €2 million a year.

Nine countries have submitted bids to host the centre, including Italy which is already home to a large data centre which supports ECMWF’s operations.

The centre has been in England for more than 40 years but Brexit means EU institutions and agencies located in the UK must find new homes.

Among the attractions of Dublin, the Government is stressing the shared language and time zone with the centre’s current home, the strong cultural and social life and easy access to countryside, sports and recreation.

The bid also says Ireland has become proficient in enabling international firms to set up swiftly and seamlessly here.

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