Court dismisses claims permission for data centre breached rights of father and daughter

Proposed facility includes four two-storey data storage buildings, offices, associated roads and a car park

Mr Justice David Holland rejected in the High Court all grounds of the Coynes’ arguments in two separate actions. EngineNode Ltd, which also opposed the challenges, was a notice party to the proceedings

The High Court has dismissed a claim by a father and a daughter that An Bord Pleanála’s decision to allow a data centre to be built near their home has breached several constitutional rights, including their right to a healthy environment.

Those claims, which were denied by the State and the board, form part of an action brought by Mannix Coyne and his daughter Amy Coyne.

The Coynes live at Bracetown, Clonee, Co Meath, close to a 25-hectare site with permission for EngineNode Ltd to build a data centre. The proposed data centre includes four two-storey data storage buildings, offices, associated roads and a car park.

In a second set of related proceedings the Coynes sought to quash the board’s decision to allow a substation and grid connection works associated with the proposed data centre.

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In a lengthy judgment on Friday Mr Justice David Holland rejected all grounds of the Coynes’ arguments in the two separate actions. EngineNode Ltd, which also opposed the challenges, was a notice party to the proceedings.

The Coynes claimed the proposed centre would require 180 megawatts of electricity per year and would generate an estimated 1 per cent of Ireland’s total annual carbon-dioxide emissions. They claimed the board’s decision in early July 2021 granting planning permission for the centre was flawed, invalid and should be set aside.

They claimed the decision to grant permission would make a significant contribution to the current climate crisis and there was a failure by the board to assess the environmental consequences of carbon-dioxide emissions that would be produced by the proposed development.

The Coynes also claimed the board’s decisions infringed their constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights to bodily integrity, life and a healthy environment.

The respondents and the notice party rejected all of the Coynes’ claims and argued a right to a healthy environment has not been recognised as existing under either the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights.

The matter will return for final orders at a later date.