The extension of planning permission for an “environmentally disastrous” data centre in Athenry is at odds with the climate emergency Ireland is facing People Before Profit has said.
Galway County Council has granted a five year extension of the planning permission granted to Apple for the data centre they once had plans for outside of Athenry.
Apple themselves abandoned the project after years of challenges that eventually made their way to the Supreme Court, which dismissed the appeal against its approval.
But the company is seeking buyers for the site with the planning permission intact, looking for a developer interested in continuing the project.
Adrian Curran of People Before Profit Galway said that facilitating the development of more data centres means that the government is not serious about tackling climate change.
“With over 70 data centres currently operating and a 25% increase in their expansion in Ireland in the last year alone, by 2030 these centres will consume 30% of the state’s total electricity demand, swallowing over half of any increase in renewable energy in the next decade,” he claimed.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its long awaited report this month, raising the alarm that we need to hit net zero emissions globally by 2050 in order to have any hope of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.
It also warned that certain environmental changes, rising sea levels, would continue to happen regardless, as a result of the damage already done to the environment.
Shortly afterwards, the EPA, Met Eireann, and Marine Institute released their ‘The Status of Ireland’s Climate’ report, which confirmed that Ireland has been getting warmer and wetter, and that sea levels have risen by approximately 2-3mm a year since the 90s.
Adrian Curran said that “continual growth driven by profit-seeking corporations and the greed of billionaires has brought us to the brink of catastrophe.”
“The change we urgently need will never come from the wealthy or the political elite. They are invested and embedded in the existing economic and power system.”
“At most they will pay lip service while playing for time to protect their interests. This cannot be tolerated.”
On top of the climate impacts from high electricity usage, he said that the economic benefits of building a data centre in Athenry are “doubtful”.
“These vast warehouses do not provide plentiful or sustainable employment as they need limited maintenance, and they also create few secondary jobs.”
When Apple planned to build the data centre themselves, it was hoped the project would create 300 jobs during the construction phase, and 150 permanent jobs when the entire masterplan for the site was complete.