*Futureproof Clare have submitted an objection. Photograph: Natasha Barton

OBJECTIONS HAVE BEEN LODGED with An Bord Pleanála this week over Clare County Council’s decision to give the construction of a data centre in Ennis the green light.

Futureproof Clare on Monday handed in their appeal to An Bord Pleanála, they had the support of environmental groups such as Ecojustice Ireland, Extinction Rebellion, and Friends of the Irish Environment.

They challenged the decision on the grounds of failing to adhere to Irish Statutory requirements, failure to have regard to relevant considerations, and failure to adhere to international and EU environmental law.

Mélina Sharp of Futureproof Clare stated, “We are in a desperate fight for survival, humanity’s life support systems are crashing all around us. Yet it is with total disbelief and dismay that we are faced, almost on a daily basis, with news of decisions made by this government which will cause even more harm to people and the natural world both locally and internationally despite having declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2019”.

Chairperson of Ecojustice Ireland, Declan Owens who recently addressed a briefing on the subject held by Futureproof Clare said, “It is shameful that Clare is being treated as a sacrifice zone for the interests of big business and that this is facilitated by local and national politicians”. He added, “I recently visited the Ennis Data Centre site and was forlorn to envisage it being transformed into a further blight on the landscape of the beautiful county of Clare and to be a serious risk to the health of the people of Clare, such are the environmental consequences of its construction and operation”.

At Monday’s sitting of Council’s Economic Development SPC, environment and conservation representative, Emma Karran who is also a member of Futureproof Clare attempted to raise the matter of the recent decision. She labelled data centres as “a real threat to the energy supply we have in this country” while also referencing “various health concerns”. She there is “a lot of concern” from environmental groups in the county.

Director of Economic Development, Liam Conneally advised Ms Karran that the decision was subject to the statutory planning process, “matters considered as part of a planning appeal should be confined to the statutory planning process”. He said the minutes of the meeting “can note that there was concerns raised in relation to the permission granted but we won’t be considering any of the content of those objections in this committee”.

Fellow Clare PPN representative on the SPC, Elaine D’Alton said she was “surprised we can’t bring up what’s in the content of the appeal. The Data Centre has created such a huge response and reaction from the Clare public”.

Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) said it was “not appropriate under planning legislation to discuss an application” in the meeting.

Praise for the Council’s decision was voiced by Cllr Pat Daly (FF), “I’m for it, it is a great announcement, they’re still sick in Athenry over what happened, it will be a great asset to the county, I’d be worried by anyone who criticises it. We’re behind other towns, it’s important that Ennis climbs the ladder”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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