South Dublin County Councillors voted this week to ban any new data centres for the duration of the new County Development Plan 2022-2028.
The amendment to the draft plan was proposed by People Before Profit Councillor Madeleine Johansson and was voted through by 18 votes in favour, 13 against and 1 abstention.
South Dublin County has become a hub of data centre activity in the last few years with the most recent planning application being approved in February 2022.
Companies with data centres based in South Dublin include Amazon, Microsoft and other multinationals.
Most of them are located in the Grange Castle and CityWest industrial areas, but there are also two located in the Cookstown area of Tallaght.
It is estimated that 10% of Ireland’s electricity use is currently consumed by data centres and this is expected to increase to 25-30% by 2030.
EirGrid raised concerns in late 2021 and initially announced a moratorium on connecting data centres to the national grid.
The move was then reversed following lobbying by the IDA and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Cllr Madeleine Johansson commented on her motion: “There is real concern in the local area about the pressure on the electricity grid from data centres.
“It is also clear from EirGrid’s initial statement in late 2021 that the grid in Dublin is struggling to cope.
“In addition to the large amount of energy used by data centres they also consume large amounts of water, again adding pressure on the capacity of water services in South Dublin where we are also seeing large new housing developments.
“There are more beneficial uses for land in Dublin, including more employment heavy industries or offices.
“Another reason for banning any new data centres is the effect these centres have on the environment because of their large energy and water consumption.
“I am delighted that councillors have gone beyond nice words and empty promises and actually taken the radical action that is necessary to protect our planet.”
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny commented:
“It’s great to see councillors take action to stop the development of more data centres in South Dublin. People Before Profit TD’s proposed a nationwide ban on data centres in 2021 which unfortunately was voted down by the Government, including the Green Party.
“I would like to congratulate my colleague Cllr Madeleine Johansson for getting this very important motion passed at SDCC.
“The saturation of data centres would simply make our international climate obligations unattainable.
“It is very good that this motion was passed, and I hope that other councils across the country will take inspiration from this motion.”
People Before Profit TD, and spokesperson on climate, Bríd Smith also welcomed the result of the vote.
“The scale and preponderance of data centres in Ireland is a real threat to our energy usage and climate targets,” Deputy Smith said.
“We simply cannot keep feeding these data centres and its now clear that continued approval for such centres will destroy any hope we have of reaching our climate targets in CO2 reductions.
“Any renewable energy projects we might realise will simply be gobbled up by data centres. They are not sustainable.”
“The Government has not addressed the core issue, which is that these centres will consume 30% and more of all electricity produced in the state in the coming years with some estimates that continued unrestricted approval of new sites could see up to 70% of our electricity going to them.”