Monday 19 August 2019

Green light for €500m data centre in Arklow

An Bord Pleanala dismisses appeal against development at Avoca River Business Park

An artist’s impression of the data centre at the Avoca River Business Park
An artist’s impression of the data centre at the Avoca River Business Park

Eimear Dodd

There was good news for Arklow last Friday as An Bord Pleanála gave the go-ahead for a data centre at the Avoca River Business Park in the town.

Echelon Data Centres has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for a 100MW, 484,000sq ft data centre facility at the Avoca River Business Park in the town.

Wicklow County Council originally granted planning permission in February 2019, but this was subject to an appeal which An Bord Pleanála has dismissed.

The €500 million development is expected to create 450 construction jobs and a further 90 full-time roles once operational.

Graeme McWilliams, COO of Echelon Data Centres, welcomed the decision.

'Clearly, the decision removes a significant uncertainty for us and clears the path to delivering a facility that will enhance Ireland's developing data centre offer, meeting growing demand from global organisations in ecommerce, telecommunications, digital broadcasting, AI and the internet of things.'

Mr McWilliams said the ruling showed 'Ireland is open for data centre business, and that the necessary decisions can be taken within a framework that allows developers a level of certainty. As the dataverse - the amount of data that is created each year - is set to triple in size by 2025, demand for facilities such as ours will increase rapidly and Ireland is well-placed to accommodate them.'

Fianna Fail TD Pat Casey said he was delighted by the announcement. ' I have been working on this project for nearly two years and today marks the beginning of an exciting new high-tech era for Arklow and South Wicklow'.

'This is the largest investment in industry in Wicklow in generations and I am delighted to have played a part in bringing the project to this stage. The data centre alone is a game changer for the South Wicklow region and Echelon have exciting plans for this iconic site.

Deputy Casey paid tribute to those had campaigned for the project over the past 17 months and expressed his hope that that the venture will encourage more industry in the south Wicklow region.

'I will continue to work closely with the company, the IDA and Wicklow County Council to ensure that this project proceeds into construction. Wicklow based employment is one of my main priorities and I am determined to see this project benefit jobs and commercial activity not just in Arklow, but the entire South Wicklow region', said Deputy Casey.

There was broad support in the town and surrounding area for the project with members of the community and local businesses campaigning for the data centre to get the go-ahead. It is hoped that the new data centre will help to revive the Avoca Park site by attracting new employers and investors. Last week, Harmony Timbers Solutions announced they had reached an agreement with Echelon Data Services to use part of the site as their new permanent headquarters.

Echelon Data Centres said they still expect to have availability for occupation at the Arklow site by autumn 2021.

Wicklow People