Poll: Are you in favour of fast-track planning rules for data centres?

The protracted planning process resulted in Apple shelving a large development in rural Ireland.

By Killian Woods Reporter, Fora

IRELAND HAS BECOME a hotbed of data centre activity in recent years, with the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google all applying to build the facilities in the Republic.

In some cases, these tech giants have come up against stiff opposition as they sought to secure planning permission – and sometimes at a significant cost.

Apple’s plans to build a large data centre in Athenry were eventually approved but due to the protracted nature of the planning process the tech firm shelved its plans to build in Galway.

The company’s application was initially stalled by objections at the local and national planning levels – an issue Facebook now has to contend with as it seeks to expand its Meath data centre campus. 

Following an objection by a local farmer, the social media giant’s expansion plans will be postponed for several months until a decision on the planning dispute is ruled on by An Bord Pleanála.

The State has moved to prevent these kinds of disputes slowing down development through changes to planning rules that would allow data centre developers to apply through a new fast-track scheme.

However, it has been noted that the near-term positive effects of data centre developments, such as the creation of construction jobs, could be outweighed by the fact these facilities are a significant drain on Ireland’s power grid and create relatively few full-time roles once completed.

Despite negative aspects of data centres, hundreds of Athenry locals still voiced their support for the €850 million facility because it would bring much-needed investment to the rural area.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Are you in favour of fast-track planning rules for data centres?