Fingal council raises concerns over Amazon data centre plans

21 Feb 2023

Image: © Alexey Novikov/

Amazon has now been asked to demonstrate to Fingal County Council how the data centres would use electricity as per latest Government policy.

Fingal County Council has raised some concerns about Amazon’s recent plans to build three new data centres in North Dublin.

The council’s planning authority has concluded that, based on the information submitted, Amazon has not “fully demonstrated” that the proposal accords with the latest Government policy on data centres revised last July.

Last month, Amazon Web Services (AWS) submitted plans for three new data centres on Cruiserath Road, Dublin 15, near other data centre sites that have been previously approved.

The proposed site will consist of one smaller building with a gross floor area of 1,425 sq m, while the other two will be much larger with a floor area of 20,582 sq m each.

The two larger buildings will have a primary parapet height of nearly 20 metres and will contain data halls, electrical and mechanical plant rooms, a loading bay, storage space, office administration areas and solar panels on the roof.

However, given the concerns around the huge energy consumption of data centres from Ireland’s national grid, Fingal County Council has some qualms about Amazon’s plans.

According to Central Statistics Office figures, data centres consumed 14pc of Ireland’s electricity in 2021, which was more than rural dwellings.

This growth is only expected to continue. In 2021, EirGrid predicted that data centres could account for a quarter of Ireland’s electricity usage by 2030 as the country attracts more data centre developments.

Despite energy concerns, the Government confirmed in July that new data centre developments will not be banned as data is an “essential enabler” of our increasingly digital economy. However, it revised its data centre policy to put tighter restrictions in place for new ones.

Amazon has now been requested by the Fingal council to submit information that demonstrates how the proposed development would “make efficient use of the electricity grid, using available capacity and alleviating constraints” as per the revised policy.

The council has also asked Amazon to submit details in respect of the additionality of the applicant’s renewable energy use in Ireland as well as Irish-specific details of its broader global commitments to provide net-zero data services.

While the council has noted Amazon’s use of wind farms as power sources, it said details should be provided in respect of “how much energy already utilised by Amazon’s operations in Ireland are being offset by these proposals” and if the quantity of electricity generated would “offset the proposed development in addition to current activity”.

An environmental impact assessment (EIS) has claimed AWS has directly invested €4.4bn in Ireland between 2011 and 2020.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic