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€450 million Ennis data centre granted planning permission despite local opposition

Construction is planned to start later this year.

The centre will contain six data halls of 33 megawatts each. File photo.
The centre will contain six data halls of 33 megawatts each. File photo.
Image: Shutterstock

CLARE COUNTY COUNCIL has granted planning permission for a €450 million data centre campus in Ennis despite opposition from local groups.

The Art Data Centre Campus was granted approval after spending four years moving through various stages of the planning process.

It is the first data centre to be approved since the Government unveiled a new data centre policy in recent weeks, which outlined a preference for developments associated with economic activity and employment that make efficient use of the electricity grid.

Art Data Centres, the company behind the project, says it will create between 400-450 permanent jobs when the data centre campus is fully operational.

The firm’s CEO, Tom McNamara, said the project is in line with the Government’s new approach to data centres.

“This Ennis project fulfils the Government’s key requirements immediately while state bodies, regulators and the electricity sector work to upgrade infrastructure, connect more renewable energy and ensure security of supply,” McNamara said.

“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.”

Data centres are responsible for 14% of all electricity usage in Ireland as of 2021. This is a 32% increase compared to 2020 and a 265% increase compared to 2015.

Construction of the Ennis campus will be phased over a seven year period starting later this year. When complete it will contain six data halls of 33 megawatts each. It has access to 200 megawatts of power from both the network grid and on-site gas generation.

Local groups have voiced strident opposition to the centre, raising concerns about water consumption and the on-site gas plant, which they say will harm air quality in the area.

Futureproof Clare said it is “deeply dismayed” by Clare County Council’s decision to grant the data centre planning permission.

“The growth of data centres in Ireland is bringing our energy grid to crisis point while also sucking our aquifers dry to cool them down,” Ruairí Ó Fathaigh of Futureproof Clare said.

“The plans to build one of the largest data centres in the country here in Ennis brings with it an additional threat to the health of people here as the plans include a gas burning plant that will only make the air quality here worse than it already is, leading to asthma and other respiratory problems,” Ó Fathaigh added.

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Céimin Burke

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