Art DC: Ennis: Extinction Rebellion fights against €1.2bn data center expansion in Ennis

Aug 13, 2021 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Art Data Centres is facing backlash from climate protests over its plans to expand facility proposals in Clare, Ireland. The Ennis data center was first proposed back in 2019, at which point it was estimated to be a €450 million project. This has now jumped massively to €1.2 billion, encompassing 145 acres or 1.3 million sq ft (120,000 sq m), and spanning six two-story data halls with up 200MW of capacity. If approved, construction could begin as early as 2022, and is expected to take around six years to complete.

Extinction Rebellion, Futureproof Clare, and the Clare Environmental Network argue that this kind of expansion counteracts sustainability targets, which include reducing national emissions by 51% in line with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill. The groups argue the facility will be so environmentally detrimental because the facility plans on burning gas to generate its power.

Another point of contention for the climate activists is that there was little opportunity for consultation over the project, for which reason, a legal challenge could be successfully launched. Moreover, the client (whose real identity is currently confidential) is reportedly not required to invest in renewable energy.

Speaking to the Clare Echo, Emanuela Ferrari from Futureproof Clare outlined that the planning application reveals the facility would use "1 million litres of water per day during hot weather." Expanding on this, she also questioned whether development plans are in line with the Regional Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES) as its electrical load could power a total of 210,000 homes.

Aisling Wheeler of Extinction Rebellion Clare added that the plans should be rejected in their current form due to excessive carbon emissions as well as "the excessive load it places on the grid." Similar arguments were by environmental group An Taisce against Amazon's expansion of its Drogheda site

The proposals outline that the project would generate 1200 temporary jobs during construction and 250 in the data center. As a result, Clare County Council has said that this project is key to its economic plans in the area. However, for many, the economic benefits do not justify the environmental damage it would cause. 

These expansion proposals come as a landmark IPCC report warns that the climate crisis is at a tipping point.
Rendering of the proposed Ennis data centre campus