Amazon secures green light for Meath data centre

Plan will not impact climate or emission targets significantly, An Bord Pleanála says

Online giant Amazon has secured the green light for a new data centre in Co Meath despite opposition from An Taisce.

An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission after concluding the Tunis Properties proposal would not have a significant impact on climate or legally binding national emission targets for greenhouse gases.

The project was stalled after An Taisce last July appealed approval by Meath County Council for the 48 megawatt (MW) data centre at an IDA business park on the outskirts of Drogheda.

Amazon already operates a data centre at the business park. Amazon Web Services (AWS) said cumulative demands from three phases of data-centre development at the site would not exceed 144MW.


AWS said 144MW equates to about 473,040 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. This is a worst-case scenario, John Spain Associates said in a submission on the company’s behalf, and it will likely decrease as the national fuel mix decreases its carbon intensity as the grid reaches the target of 70 per cent renewable mix by 2030.

The planning inspector in the case, Barry O’Donnell, recommended that permission be granted after noting that indirect CO2 emissions from electricity to serve the facility do not count towards or affect Ireland’s reduced emissions target and will instead be regulated under the European Union emissions trading scheme, which sets EU-wide targets for sectors within the scheme.

Capital investment

An Amazon commissioned report estimates that AWS has made a capital investment of €2 billion on its network of data centres here over the past decade.

An Taisce contended that councils and the appeals board are granting permission for data centres on a case-by-case basis without adequately addressing cumulative impacts of energy use.

Figures they provided state that there are 70 data centres in operation using 900MW of energy with a further eight under consideration expected to use an additional 250MW.

An Taisce said growth has been unchecked and data centres now consume 11 per cent of Ireland’s grid-generated electricity and it is projected to grow to 31 per cent by 2027. It claimed that uninhibited development of data centres was diluting the benefits of renewable energy generation that has taken place in the last 20-30 years.

Mr Spain, for AWS, contended that if permission were to be withheld for data centres for the reasons outlined in the An Taisce appeal, no large industrial energy development would be able to secure development, thereby stalling economic growth.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times