Data centre high court challenge called an “affront to democracy”

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

Echelon DC Holdings Limited has brought forward a high court challenge to South Dublin County Council’s decision to ban further data centres from being built in the county.

In June, councillors voted to amend the South Dublin County Development Plan to ban any new data centres in the county until 2028.

This motion was proposed by People Before Profit councillor, Madeleine Johansson, who described the court case as: “an affront to the democratic mandate of local governments and to the environmental movement across the island”.

Following a recommendation of the Office of the Planning Regulator the Minister of State for Local Government, Peter Burke. issued a draft direction to remove the amendment from the plan. Protestors gathered outside the minister’s office at Custom House Quay on Thursday, August 4, to indicate their anger and disappointment at this potential move.

There are 37 data centres currently in operation in the South County Dublin Council area. It is estimated that 14 per cent of Ireland’s electricity usage is currently consumed by data centres, which is expected to increase to 25-30 per cent by 2030.

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities and Eirgrid has previously cautioned that Dublin may face blackouts this winter if energy demand are not significantly reduced.

Commenting on Minister Burke’s decision to overturn the moratorium on data centres in South Dublin, Councillor Johansson said: “It is vital that we stand up against corporate interests when they are putting profit before people and planet.

“This, combined with the recent amber warnings on our electricity grid, shows that there is already a real issue keeping up with demand. These corporations are behaving like spoilt children throwing their toys out the pram because local councillors have made a decision to safeguard their local community.”

A public consultation on the matter will remain open for submissions at South Dublin County Council’s online portal until the August 23.

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