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File image of a man working in a data centre Alamy Stock Photo
Data centre

An Bord Pleanála gives green light to €1.2 billion data centre in Ennis

The appeals board took more than 18 months to make a determination.

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has given the green light to contentious plans for a new 200MW €1.2 billion data centre campus on the outskirts of Ennis.

The Ennis data centre campus is to comprise six data halls covering 145 acres or 1.3 million sq ft on lands adjacent to the Tulla Rd on the eastern outskirts of Ennis, near Junction 13 on the M18 motorway connecting Galway to Limerick.

Welcoming the decision, applicants Art Data Centres Ltd confirmed that the project will create up to 450 permanent jobs when the data centre campus is fully operational, with up to 1,200 jobs in construction. 

Construction work on the scheme is to take six years and a company spokesman said today: “Construction will commence as soon as possible in 2024.”

The planned Ennis data centre has been six years moving through various stages including strategic site assessment, zoning and planning.

CEO of Art Data Centres, Tom McNamara welcomed the announcement. 

He said: “This is great news for this data centre campus and for Clare as the project will be a key pillar of the Ennis 2040 Economic Plan for the area.”

He added: “The infrastructure that is available in the Ennis site will assist the Government in national ambitions to deliver ongoing opportunities for the country in the tech industry.

“The power connection application can now be finally processed due to the positive planning decision.”

The applicants initially pencilled for June 2023 as a construction start date but opposition along with planning delays at An Bord Pleanala resulted in the appeals board taking more than 18 months to make a determination. 

In giving the project the go-ahead to Art Data Centres Ltd, the appeals board has stated that it had regard to the Government Statement on the role of data centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy from July 2022.

The board also stated that it has had regard to the Climate Action Plan and distance of the proposed development to dwellings in the area.

The appeals board concluded that the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the landscape or ecology and would not seriously injure the visual or residential amenities of the area.

The appeals board grant upholds a grant of permission by Clare Co Council that was issued for the ambitious project in August 2022 and the scheme has been before An Bord Pleanala since September 2022.

The proposed development came before the appeals board after eight appeals were lodged by An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment, Futureproof Clare, the Clare Green Party and four individuals: Dr Colin Doyle; Martin Knox; Colin Johnston; and Christine Sharp.

In its appeal, An Taisce stated that it recommended a refusal to the scheme as the project “would require a very significant amount of power, thereby generating a projected 657,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum”.

An Taisce claimed that “this substantial increase in annual emissions contravenes the emissions reduction obligations of the Climate Change Act”.

The proposed site was zoned in 2019 by members of Clare County Council for “data centres & power generating infrastructure”.