Strong stance taken on plans for data centres
Grange Castle and Profile Park is home to 23 data centres

Strong stance taken on plans for data centres

A MORATORIUM on the development of data centres in South Dublin County has been upheld – and a local councillor is calling on the Government not to overturn it.

The moratorium is part of the South Dublin County Development Plan 2022-2028 and was voted on by councillors last week for the second time.

The moratorium had been debated and agreed by councillors at the previous stage of the County Development Plan last March.

However, the chief executive of the council recommended the removal of the moratorium for the final version of the plan, which was then voted on last week and the moratorium was reinstated.

The Office of the Planning Regulator had issued a recommendation to remove amendments concerning the moratorium, on the basis that they did not align with national policy on data centres which does not support a ban or moratorium.

Last week, councillors again voted on a motion about the inclusion of the moratorium, with the motion passing with 21 councillors voting in favour, 10 against and two abstentions.

According to a Bitpower Energy Solutions report in May 2021, South Dublin County has 34 operational data centres, the majority of which (23) are located in Grange Castle and Profile Park.

A further 11 are operational within Citywest/Parkwest/Tallaght. The report listed another three under construction, 12 approved for planning, and another four were in the planning stage.

Major multinational companies, like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, have invested in substantial data centre infrastructure in Dublin in recent years.

However, the proliferation of data centres in the county has become a point of concern, particularly in terms of the pressure they place on the national electricity grid and water supplies.

It is estimated that 10 per cent of Ireland’s electricity use is currently consumed by data centres and this is expected to increase to 25 to 30 per cent by 2030.

EirGrid – the State-owned electric power transmission operator – raised concerns in late 2021 and initially announced a moratorium on connecting data centres to the national grid.

The move was then reversed following lobbying by the IDA and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

In response to a recent question submitted by Sinn Féin councillor Louise Dunne, the council stated that data centres in the county used circa 810 million litres of water during 2021, which equates to circa 0.13 per cent of total water demand as a percentage of overall water supplied during 2021.

People Before Profit councillor Madeleine Johansson, who tabled the motion for the moratorium, said: “I think it’s extremely important that councillors have taken a strong stance on data centres.

“Councillors have voted to not allow any new data centres in the county until the end of the plan in 2028.

“There are already at least 34 data centres in operation in South Dublin County which is more than half of all data centres in the country.

“We know that data centres are putting extraordinary pressure on local infrastructure such as water and electricity. They provide very few jobs for the land space and resources that they use.

“Several experts on the subject, such as Dr Patrick Bresnihan of NUIM and Professor Barry McMullin of DCU, have raised serious concerns that if we continue to allow more data centres Ireland will be unable to meet its carbon emissions targets of 30 per cent reduction by 2030.

“Being involved in politics means making decisions on behalf of the people who elected us.

“According to the Ireland Thinks Poll carried out on June 19, 57 per cent of people agree with a moratorium on data centres.

“On this occasion councillors have voted in the interest of the climate and our communities – not in the interest of big corporations.

“I would urge the Office of the Planning Regulator to closely examine the arguments in the motion before making any recommendation to the Minister.

“I also call on the Minister [for Local Government, Darragh O’Brien] to respect the local democracy of elected councillors and not direct to have the amendments removed.”

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