Environmentalist challenges Amazon €100m data storage facility

By Ann O'Loughlin

An environmentalist has mounted a legal challenge to the granting of planning permission for a huge €100m data storage facility in North West Dublin linked to internet giant Amazon.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern today admitted the challenge to An Bord Pleanála's grant of permission to Amazon Data Services Ireland Ltd for the 20,739 square metres facility to the list of the big business division of the High Court.

The legal challenge bought by environmentalist Peter Sweetman of Ballina, Co Mayo will be heard in July. Amazon Data Services Ireland Ltd (ADSIL) is a notice party in the case against An Bord Pleanála and the State.

Last January An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the construction of a data storage facility building on lands at Cruiserath, Blachardstown, Dublin. The facility expected to cost in the region of €100m will have 12 data server halls.

Mr Sweetman has claimed an appropriate assessment of the project allegedly failed to consider adequately or at all the impacts of grid connection for the development. He is seeking various orders including an order quashing the planning permission grant and a declaration An Bord Pleanála erred in national and EU law in failing to assess the enviromental impacts of the proposal as a whole project.

He has also contended the development as applied for represents the first phase of a master plan which provides for future expansion to include up to seven additional data storage facilities.

In an affidavit to the court Martin Rice, director of ADSIL said the data storage facility building will service the growing demand for cloud computing services provided by Amazon Web services, which is a company within the Amazon group of companies.

The storage facility will involve about 20,739 square meters and be about 13 metres in height.

Amazon Web Services is a cloud services offering that provides computer power, database storage, content delivery and other functionality to organisations. Mr Rice said with cloud computing Amazon Web Services manages and maintains the technology infrastructure in a secure environment and organisations access these resources via the internet.

He said a key benefit of cloud computing is that organisations no longer need to invest upfront capital expenses to build and operate their own premises' data centres.

Any delay in the construction and delivery of the data storage base will be extremely costly to Amazon and could be detrimental to Amazon's business more broadly, he said.

To date he said ADSIL has invested significant time and incurred substantial costs to develop the project and it has spent in excess of €2m preparing for the development of the data storage facility building. If built, he said the total cost of the data storage facility building and its operation will be well in excess of €100m.

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