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Government’s targeting of data centres will not address unemployment and investment problems in the regions – Maurice Quinlivan TD

7 June, 2018 - by Maurice Quinlivan TD

Speaking in reaction to the government’s launch of their new policy document on data centres, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD, said that data centres will not address the unemployment and investment problems in regional Ireland.

Speaking today, Teachta Quinlivan said;

“There is a real need to attract more foreign direct investment to the regions to provide good quality jobs and opportunities to people living in these areas and to take pressure off the capital.

“However, targeting data centres specifically is not going to address these problems. Although any investment in regional Ireland is very welcome, data centres typically employ very few people when completed.

"They energy they require is also hugely disproportionate to the number of people employed.

“Currently just 1,800 people are employed in the data centre sector, but according to Eirgrid, by 2026 15% of all electricity demand in Ireland will come from data centres.

"This government is not investing enough in renewables to meet this, and we are already in line to miss our EU emissions targets.

"Targeting more data centres could make this energy and emissions situation much worse for the state.

“We are also very sceptical about the government’s plans to simply categorise data centres as ‘strategic infrastructure’ to address the delays in the planning process.

“This means that companies wishing to develop such centres will apply for permission directly to An Bord Pleanála, and no longer be required to seek initial planning from the local authority.

"Apart from the issue of taking power off local authorities we don’t think this will fix the problems in the long term.

“Labelling data centres as strategic infrastructure could help sort delays for data centres alone, but not other indigenous and FDI projects.

"We should be looking at whether our courts and planning system are adequately resourced to deal with cases in a timely manner.

“We would welcome any development of data centres in Ireland, but we do not believe targeting these projects will help reduce unemployment levels in regional Ireland, nor address the traditional lack of FDI investment in some counties, and it could lead to considerable energy and emissions problems for the state in the future.”

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