Republic of Ireland: Ennis Data Centre appeal reaches next stage

Nov 28, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

The appeal against the Ennis Data Centre is reportedly moving to the next stage, according to a report by local newspaper, the Clare Herald. A response from the developer has been passed on from An Bord Pleanála, Ireland's national independent planning body, to the appellants, which include the Clare Green Party, Futureproof Clare, Friends of the Irish Environment and An Taisce, as well as three individuals who also appealed.

The appeals against the data center were made on the grounds of the climate impact of the development and the fact that its potential impact was not adequately addressed in the planning application. According to the climate impact assessment made with respect to the Climate Action Plan 2021, the data center would emit almost 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, which according to Bridget Ginnity of Clare Green Party, exceeds the emissions from the entire beef herd in Co. Clare. She explained: "The proposed data centre will totally undermine our efforts to achieve energy security and 80% renewable energy by 2030. It doesn't make sense that one data centre will account for 10% of the emissions ceiling for the electricity sector in 2030". This new information spans 200 pages, and appellants have less than three weeks to respond, with a final deadline of 11th January 2023, for An Bord Pleanala's decision. 

Colin Doyle, one of the people who appealed the planning decision, outlined: "A startling conclusion of their new climate assessment is that the greenhouse gas emissions from the data centre would consume one tenth of the national emissions ceiling for electricity generation in 2030. And that's under the most optimistic scenario."

In addition to this, in response to criticisms around the lack of provisions for renewable energy, the developer said it was open to accepting a planning condition to enter into a corporate power purchase agreement to offset its 200MW energy usage. According to evidence produced by the developer, MCRE windfarm, a Barefield-based renewable energy provider, has shown that there's potential availability of 150MW.

One of the individuals who appealed, Martin Knox of Ennis, said that a corporate power purchase agreement does not solve the problem: "We need that renewable energy for our current electricity demands. The county development plan is for 550MW of wind by 2030. If the data centre need 200MW renewables, it should be additional to that."

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