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Artist's impression of the proposed Ennis data centre

Councillor calls for ‘greener’ Clare data centre plan

COUNCILLOR Johnny Flynn has called on the developers of a proposed €1.2 billion Ennis data centre to make substantial changes to their plans for the development, writes Dan Danaher.

A significant number of objections have already been made to Clare County Council in relation to the planning application lodged by Art Data Centres Ltd.

An objection to the plan made by Future Proof Clare includes the signatures of 250 people, the majority of which the organisation say were gathered within seven hours in Ennis’ town centre.

Concerns have been raised about the planned development by politicians, individuals and groups with Future Proof Clare, Extinction Rebellion Clare and the Clare Environment Network joining forces in their opposition to the proposal.

Friends of the Irish Environment, Environmental Trust Ireland and Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe are also among those who have lodged submissions.

In a comprehensive submission to the local planning authority, Councillor Flynn outlined he is in favour of the development of a green, low-carbon data centre that also ensures to resolve infrastructure deficits within the red line boundary of the application site, and in the wider Ennis area provided mitigation measures are introduced to address these deficiencies.

He believes that the proposed planning application for Ennis Data Centre in its current design and format does not deal with the bulk of his “serious reservations”.

He claimed the current planning application is not in compliance with the related Variation No. 1 of the County Development Plan (CDP) 2017-2023 in terms of the proposed development, as it does not adopt “sustainable practices in terms of operation”.

It is argued the data centre would use 80 megawatts of energy from the national electricity grid, 120 megawatts on site from a fossil fuel gas energy centre, which could result in the emission of an extra 650,000 tonnes annually of greenhouse gas emissions.

He believes the applicants should be asked to outline the greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuelled operation of the data centre, and design a plan for an alternative sustainable, green, low-carbon primary energy model for the centre.

He claimed the current application isn’t in compliance with the goals of the Clare Local Economic and Community Plan or the Clare Renewable Energy Strategy concerning the need to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

After reviewing the site specific Flood Risk Assessment (FRA), he claimed it does not seem to cover the full extent of the proposed development red line boundary as shown on planning application drawings.

He proposed the applicant should be requested to carry out a detailed FRA to include surveying both inlet and outlet faces of the bridge and its internal area at Aughavadda bridge.

This, he said, would outline how the applicant proposes to provide additional flow capacity at this river flow restriction on the impacted Spancilhill Ballymachill river to deal with impact of proposed site run-off and increase due to climate change.

“The applicant should be requested to liaise with TII in order to carry out a detailed road safety and traffic impact on both slip roads at Junction 13 which is described by TII as a compact junction.

“If the Northern on and off slip roads are described as compact by TII how would they describe the geometrically significantly even smaller southern on and off slip roads.

“There is concern that the southern slip road size and design is not adequate for the up to 40 heavy goods vehicles daily that the development will generate.

“It is noted this issue was raised by Clare County Council in pre-planning meetings in terms of possible accidents on the slip roads and what are alternative HGVs plan B route, which needs to be audited for road safety.”

I ask that the planning authority request a detailed report from Irish Water on the ability of existing public drinking water treatment and distribution systems, waste water system and public water reservoir infrastructure to adequately service the proposed development.

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