Publishing Date: Feb 17, 2022

Datacentres for better security

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PRESS RELEASE: Plans submitted by EdgeConneX to build two new data centres and three gas-powered generation plant buildings have been approved by South Dublin County Council.

The applicant, EdgeConneX Ireland Limited, was given the greenlight by the planning authority on January 19 to build a site within the townland of Ballymakaily, just west of Newcastle Road and Grange Castle Business Park in Lucan.

In the proposal, which was submitted in February 2021, it outlined how an abandoned single storey dwelling, agricultural shed and derelict former farm building be demolished for the data centres.

Constructing two single-storey data centres (12,797sq.m), both with an associated plant at roof level that contained 24 standby diesel generators and associated flues (each 25m high) formed the main part of the plans.

This aspect of the development will be attached to a single storey goods receiving area/store and a single storey office area (2,404sq.m) located to the west of the data centres.

An associated water tower and sprinkler tank and other services will also be included in this portion of the development.

The original proposal includes new internal access roads to served the development and provide access to 39 new car parking spaces, which included four electric and two disabled spaces.

There was also provision for a sheltered bike store, a new attenuation pond, green walls, above ground gas installation compound and boiler room and associated landscaping.

A sliver of land to the north of the subject is zoned RU, which is ‘to protect and improve rural amenity and to provide for the development of agriculture’.

Meanwhile, the rest of the land is zoned EE, which is ‘to provide for enterprise and employment related uses’.

The lands zoned RU, which is just south of Grand Canal, was a cause for concern for the council and they requested further information in April 2021 to clarify how that part of the site would be used.

In response, the applicant made a plan indicating that no built development would take place on RU zoned lands and “that planning gain in the form of a landscaped park beside the canal will be achieved”.

The second major part of the plans is for the phased development of three two-storey gas powered generation plants (9,286sq.m) within three individual buildings.

Two of the gas plants measure out to 3,045sq.m and will contain 20 generator units.

Meanwhile gas plant three is slightly larger at 3196sq.m and will contain 21 generator units.

All three gas plants have provision for associated 25m-high flues.

In the application, it states that “these plants will be built to provide power to each data centre, if and, when required” as “back up power generation once the permitted power connection via the permitted substation is achieved”.

In response to this, the local planning authority asked for a “justification for the form of energy production proposed in relation to climate change and renewable energy policy”.

“The impact of gas generators at this sensitive site should be fully addressed,” it said.

Through further information, the applicant outlined that alternative sources of energy were evaluated but deemed “not viable”.

It found that, with flexibility requirements on Eirgrid policy, “the only viable technology to meet this demand for up to 15 hours at a time is via connection to the gas transmission network”.

“All other forms of technology would require vast quantities of equipment energy storage, which would not be viable within the footprint of the site,” the planning documentation reads.

The council found that the applicant had not addressed their concerns with this response and requested clarification on these items.

In the interim, the policy context relating to the form of energy production and data centres changed.

Therefore, the council was of the understanding that “given the changes in the policy context and justification for the current proposal it is considered that this item has been satisfactorily addressed”.

However, a condition was included that a review of the gas plant take place five years after the first operation takes place on the site in light of “new/greener technologies” that may be developed.

Almost a year after the application was first filed, South Dublin County Council granted permission on January 19, 2022 subject to 21 conditions.

One of these conditions was the requirement for the developer to pay a financial contribution of over €1.5million in respect of public infrastructure.


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