December 21, 2020
Planning regulations must change to consider the cumulative environmental impact of data centres – Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Justice Senator Lynn Boylan has said that the government’s strategy for data centres must change, saying that planning regulations must be updated so that An Bord Pleanála and local authorities can take into consideration the cumulative environmental impact of these developments.

Senator Boylan said:

“Amazon, Facebook and Google are trying to greenwash their image by publicising investments in windfarms. However, they remain tightlipped about the fact that they also build fossil fuel based electricity generators for their data centres.

“Data centres pose a serious threat to our ability to meet our emissions targets. At a time when we’re supposed to be reducing emissions, the data centres of tech giants will add at least 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 to our carbon emissions in the coming decade.

“Currently, local authorities and An Bord Pleanála judge data centres in combination with the impact of other developments in the local area, however they are not required to take account of the cumulative energy and climate impact of data centres.

“We have to ask ourselves is the planning system fit for purpose if we continue to allow the proliferation of data centres when there is a climate crisis?

“Currently, Environmental Impact Assessments for individual data centres claim that the impact on energy use is insignificant but the critical point is the cumulative impact that the energy use is having on infrastructure and on our ability to meet our EU Climate Targets.

“We need to change the planning regulations so that An Bord Pleanála and local authorities can take into consideration the cumulative impact of this type of development.”

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