Local jobs bonanza moves a step closer

by Padraig Conlon

The largest private investment in Ireland’s history, which could potentially bring 5,000 jobs to the local area, is another step closer.

US tech giant Intel are on coarse to get approval for a planned €3.53bn facility at their Leixlip plant after it replied to all queries from Kildare County Council regarding its plans last month.

Back in December Intel made it known they wanted to massively upgrade their Irish base, which competes with their Israeli operation for business.

In January they filed their planning application to Kildare County Council for a 110,000sq/m development which they plan to add to a proposed 90,000sq/m facility which was granted planning permission in 2017.

The planning documents revealed Intel will spend up to $8 billion (€7 billion) on the proposed facility.

Once the proposed “fab” is completed, (which will take four years to build) Intel will have to add up to 1,600 staff extra staff to the Leixlip campus which already employs 4,500.

An extra 3,000 construction roles will also be needed to be filled at the peak of building.

When making their application, General Manager of Intel Ireland, Eamonn Sinnott, said the company would be “actively engaging” with the local community in relation to the proposed expansion.

“It is important to note that the site expansion, and related investment, is expected to entail multi-year construction activities that will be taken in stages,” he said.

“As always, these stages are subject to change based on business, economic and other factors.”

While Intel are now free to apply for planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for the facility, after having answered Kildare County Council’s queries, they may still face objections.

Local farmer Thomas Reid, who has already submitted six objections to Intel plans since 2012, has submitted an objection against the planned new facility.

Previously he unsuccessfully objected to the first phase of the expansion plans in 2017.

In 2015 however he was successful in his fight with the IDA when the Supreme Court found that the IDA making a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for Reid’s 72-acre farm beside the Intel campus had been in excess of their powers.

The IDA were left having to pick up the costs of the case which amounted to €1.375 million.

In response to Reid’s latest objection, Intel say they have provided all information to show “that the legitimate concerns of agencies and neighbours have been anticipated and comprehensively addressed in the application”.

Another person who has lodged an objection against the expansion is high profile planning activist Peter Sweetman who has argued that it is not possible to give the go-ahead to the new fab without specific details of the grid connection to serve the new facility.

Kildare County Council asked Intel to set out the cumulative environmental effects of the plan and a new 220k sub-station to provide the electricity for the proposal.

Intel said the new plant will be powered via existing Intel site grid infrastructure until the EirGrid project is implemented and connected to the entire Intel facility.

Intel also said the EirGrid project is an improvement on an existing supply to facilitate secure and reliable supply to the Intel site and the wider community.

Consultants for Intel told Kildare County Council the firm has already invested $12.5bn in their site at Leixlip and they are seeking a 10-year planning permission for their new application.

In response to an enquiry from Dublin Gazette regarding their expansion plans a spokesperson for Intel said:

“Our general manager, Eamonn Sinnott, shared a brief statement when we submitted the planning application which may be helpful.

“The only additional thing I would add is that planning applications such as this are part of our regular business practice to ensure preparation and readiness.”

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