Activists have joined the fray after a massive six-hall data center on a 145-acre site gave the green light

Opponents of a massive new data center will appeal An Bord Pleanála’s planning permission, citing environmental, climate and public health concerns.

The Art Data Centers campus proposed for Ennis in Co Clare was approved by Clare County Council earlier this month despite objections to its size and impact on energy use.

Planned to be built over a seven-year period, it will include six data halls and supporting infrastructure on a 145-acre site west of the town of Ennis.

Activists from groups such as FutureProof Clare, Friends of the Irish Environment and EcoJustice Ireland plan to appeal to An Bord Pleanála and follow up on their objections if necessary.

“There is a possibility of taking it to the Supreme Court and to Europe if necessary,” Declan Owens, a lawyer with EcoJustice, told a protest rally yesterday.

The meeting also heard from public health expert Professor David Carpenter on the impact of fossil fuel power plants on the health of neighboring communities.

Professor Carpenter of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany said the research in New York made direct links between health problems and fossil fuels.

He said neighborhoods with fossil-fuel power plants had increased hospitalizations for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections due to higher levels of polluting particulate matter and volatile organic compounds in the air.

“Even if air pollution doesn’t cause the disease, asthma attacks will likely be more common, and if you have COPD, you’re more likely to be hospitalized,” he said.

The Art Data Centers campus, to be built in stages through 2030, will be powered.

The plans for the plant include a large back-up power supply for power generation.

FutureProof Clare’s Ruairí O Fathaigh said it was to be expected that the center would rely heavily on the backup generation given the well-documented load imposed by data centers nationwide on electricity.

Art Data Centers has been solicited for comment and upon request received a list of questions dated Irish Independent.

No reply has been received.

The project’s approval comes at a time when the data center industry is under intense scrutiny for its impact on power delivery.

The national energy regulator last week issued an emergency document to electricity companies warning them that the risk of demand exceeding supply this winter is growing.

A range of measures are proposed to curb demand from all sectors, particularly during tense peak periods, but data centers have been singled out as the country’s biggest energy consumers.

Tom McNamara previously welcomed Clare County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the Ennis project.

He said it would create around 450 jobs when fully operational.

Plans for the site indicate that air cooling systems will be used instead of water to regulate the temperature in the data halls and that rainwater harvesting systems will be used to reduce overall demand on the public water supply.

Mr O Fathaigh said the development was not appropriate in an area crying out for land for housing.

He also expressed concern about how close the gas plant would be to the homes of the local Travelers community. Activists have joined the fray after a massive six-hall data center on a 145-acre site gave the green light

Fry Electronics Team

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