Friday, January 27, 2023

Gordon Deegan

Online retail giant Amazon has lodged plans for three new data centres in north Dublin, with an objector claiming the scheme alone would contribute to “1 per cent of Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions”.

Universal Developers LLC, on behalf of Amazon, has submitted plans with Fingal County Council for the three new buildings for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centre campus on a 65-acre land-holding at Cruiserath Road, Dublin 15.

The planning consultants for the scheme, John Spain and Associates, state that one data centre is already operational at the campus while construction work continues on two others.

An environmental impact statement (EIS) lodged with the scheme stated that permitted development and future indicative development at the data campus will consume 219.7MW in power and produce 607,523 tonnes of CO2 per year.

In planning documents, Mr Spain said AWS had already directly invested €4.4 billion in Ireland between 2011 and 2020 and supports 8,700 jobs here.

Mr Spain said the new data centres represent “a significant investment that will create additional, direct and indirect and induced economic and employment benefits”.

At peak, 400 construction workers will be involved in building the data centres, which will employ 50 when operational.

The planning documents state the target date for commencing work on the first data centre is the second quarter of this year, with AWS assuming to commence construction on the second data centre in the second quarter of 2024.

Wind farms

The EIS states that Amazon’s three wind farm projects in Galway, Cork and Donegal are projected to deliver 229MW of renewable energy capacity each year and reduce carbon emissions by 366,000 tonnes of CO2.

The three projects make Amazon the largest single corporate buyer of renewable energy in the country.

The planning document states that “the operator has committed to off-take 100% of the power from these renewable energy projects. Therefore, renewable energy sources will be used to provide electricity to the site thereby reducing the indirect pollutant emissions from electricity generation.”

Mr Spain said Amazon’s data centres “enable some of Ireland’s best known businesses to reduce costs, innovate faster, and scale and grow their operation”.

Mr Spain said the proposed data centres has a grid connection agreement from 2017 with Eirgrid for the site that allows for an increase of power to the site for each of the years 2022 to 2029.

The planning consultant said the Commission for Energy Regulation’s (CRU’s) November 2021 direction to data centre operators concerning grid connections does not impact on the planned data centres.

Third parties have until January 30th to make submissions and the sole objector to date, Mannix Coyne from Bracetown, Clonee, Co Meath, has said the 602,532 tonnes of CO2 emissions from the data campus alone “would represent 1 per cent of Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions, a staggering figure for a single development”.

The Co Meath resident contends a grant of permission and consequent production of significant CO2 emissions “contravenes my unremunerated constitutional rights to a healthy environment, the right to life and the right to bodily integrity”.

A decision is due on the application next month.

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