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Outcome of Amazon Irish datacentre planning appeal potentially delayed until November

Amazon faces having to wait up to two months to hear the outcome of an environmental appeal against its plans to build a datacentre in Dublin

Irish planning officials have confirmed it could take up to another two months to decide if the plans for Amazon’s €1bn datacentre in Dublin should be tweaked to become more environmentally friendly.

The cloud services giant was initially set to hear by today (25 September 2017) if Irish planning body, An Bord Pleanála (ABP), would uphold Fingal County Council’s (FCC) decision to let it proceed with the build in the wake of an appeal by environmental objectors.

However, in a letter to project stakeholders and objectors seen by Computer Weekly, an ABP representative said “further consideration” of the case is needed, and a decision is now not expected until 24 November at the latest.

“The will take all such steps as are open to it to ensure that the appeal is determined before that date,” the letter reads.

The delay appears to be linked to an apparent shortage of board-level staff at ABP. The organisation issued a statement on this at the start of August, warning of the knock-on impact the situation is having on the turnaround times for appeals and planning application decisions.

Work on the datacentre, located in the Mulhuddart suburb of Dublin, was initially pegged to start in mid-2017, after FCC granted planning approval for the project in April 2017, but was put on hold after an appeal was lodged one month later.

As reported by Computer Weekly at the time, the build was expected to take 18 months to complete, with the help of 400 construction workers.

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Until the outcome of the appeal is known, work on the project cannot begin, and an oral hearing pertaining to the case is due to commence at 10am on 26 September 2017, after being postponed a fortnight ago.

This will give representatives from Amazon an opportunity to directly address the various environmental issues raised by the project’s objectors, who include Allan Daly and David Hughes, which are primarily focused on the site’s energy use.

Incidentally, Daly is in the midst of a similar environment-related spat with Apple over its plans to build a datacentre in the town of Athenry in County Galway, which has delayed the start of its construction by around two-and-a-half years so far.

Further details

In a statement to Computer Weekly, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) spokesperson said the firm is looking forward to getting the chance to share more details about the project with the Irish planning officials tomorrow.

“We welcome the opportunity to share more details around our proposed data center development in Dublin and our continued investment in Ireland with An Bord Pleanála,” the spokesperson said.

Speaking at the Datacloud Ireland conference in Dublin last week, Patrick Breen, the Irish government minister of state for business, enterprise and innovation, said a review of the country's planning policies is being considered, in the wake of the delays faced by Apple during the planning stage of its server farm in Athenry.

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