back to article 100MW bit barn farm in Ireland faces planning appeal from – yep – same guy who helped sink Apple's application

A 100MW data centre campus in County Wicklow, Ireland, is in danger of being delayed or cancelled altogether after an appeal was lodged with the country's planning authority, An Bord Pleanála. In the appeal doc, data centre developer Brian McDonagh, CEO at Ecologic Data Centres Limited, claims the planning permission granted …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm shocked shocked!

    That one businessman would use the courts to trip up a competitor. Can't they all just get along, like Apple & Samsung? Oh wait...

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    The appeal will be ruled on by 20 July

    If the Apple case is anything to go by El Reg had a rare dose of foresight not to mention the year that the final appeal of the fourth appeal to Europe will be ruled upon...

    My guess FWIW will be 2025 by which time the developer will have made the same decision as Apple and gone elsewhere.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fish in a barrel

    " . . . . I am determined that this project gets off the ground. . . . . game changer . . . . . exciting plans for this iconic site. . . . . . I have been working on this project with Crag Digital, now Echelon, for the past 17 months. The initial investment is over €500m . . . . . major data centre with 100 megawatts of capacity in phase 1, which will in turn attract industries in the valuable technology and software sectors."

    Tearing this shit apart is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    1. Chris G

      Re: Fish in a barrel

      Or, the Honourable Member could have cut to the chase with ' I am determined to get this off the ground............. I won't be an MP forever.

  4. Alister

    Maybe, if McDonagh stopped raising appeals, he might have more time and money to build his own Datacentre.

  5. JetSetJim

    Who'd have thought - here in the UK only the applicant can appeal a planning decision (source), whereas people who commented on an application can also appeal in RoI (source). Much more sensible over there (although perhaps it may add rather a lot to the administrative burden with all the NIMBY's in the UK).

    Good on him, takes a lot of work to go up against expensive planning consultants

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      UK planning in small scale projects is also a farce: (from personal experience in my Parish)

      Parish objects to house plan – District also object, on the same 9 points – Developer appeals to Government Inspector – Developer moves garage by 1m and reapplies – Parish object as same 9 points still apply – District says “we have no money to fight this” and approves plan – 2 days later Government Inspector reports that all 9 points of objection to original plan are valid and that type of house should never be built on the plot.

      The only recompense for the Parish is a Judicial Review with costs starting at over 8 times the annual Parish precept! The whole system is one sided and corrupt!

      1. hoola Silver badge

        It is actually even worse once it is appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

        They invariably take out a load of extra work in landscaping, planning gain (footpaths and so on) so it can actually be in the developers interests to get an application rejected so they can appeal it.

        In a recent development near me, the local and parish council recommended it be turned down as there were too many houses on the plot.

        It was appealed and the result of that was the same number of houses and best of all removing the requirement to put a footpath/cycle path along the side of the road where there is currently nothing. The best part is that a small development that comprised a shop and some flats at the end of the same piece of land did have to put in the path. We now have about 50m of path that just stops at a grassy bank and wall where it meets the appealed development.

  6. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    Are those 80 million fines for carbon release real? If they are, shouldn't the data center pay for them?

    On a separate note: Echelon Data Centres? Seriously?

  7. Mr Spuratic


    All of which is easily disproved by Eirgrid's "All-Island Generation Capacity Statement 2016-2025", the 206 page Environmental Impact Statement which includes Flood Risk analysis (its proximity to the river makes that mandatory in Wicklow), and the 520MW expansion to the Arklow wind farm.

    The main source of waste heat appears to be McDonagh himself.

    The site happens to have 100MW capacity, the data center design peak load is 60MW according to the application. How exactly does one heat 312,000 homes (with <200W each) in a county with 50,000 homes?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Echelon"? That's definitely not in any way a suspicious name for a data centre operator, nosirree...

    Now, where did I put my tinfoil hat, and what's that buzzing on the phone line?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Echelon

      I notice that all of us who have made the obvious connection regarding the name "Echelon" only just seem to have had our posts released from the moderation queue as of a few minutes ago, almost all in a one-er...(!)

      Maybe we do actually need those tinfoil hats after all?

  9. Mage


    NO large data-centre for data mostly used outside Ireland makes sense here due to the Electricity.

    Wind & Solar are not the answer as there are long periods with no output. Especially Wind. UK has a bigger problem with failure of two nuke projects and much of their nuke due to close. Wind can be lacking over most of Europe for a couple of weeks at a time, so inter-connectors don't help.

    1. Killing Time

      Re: Electricity

      As the article points towards a major gas supply to the development I strongly suspect the inclusion of a gas fired cogen in the plans somewhere.

      This would provide a reliable backup to the renewables/ grid connection.

  10. TheVogon

    That's OK, the UK with our cheap (well half the cost of new nuclear anyway), low carbon, and plentiful (now over 50% of generating capacity) renewables would be happy to build it.

    1. Danny 14

      im sure noone will mind when their cloud data goes offline when the wind stops.

  11. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    I'd be wondering what the impact adding 100MW demand to Ireland's power grid would be, especially as Ireland took the Green piill. Datacenters want cheap, reliable power, renewables provide intermittent, expensive power. And given Ireland's location, it's at the end of the line for interconnectors to the EU's dreamed of magical supergrid.

  12. TRT Silver badge

    Mixed feelings

    Good on him for trying to make better use of low grade heat that would otherwise be wasted. Makes me fume when I see DCs and freezer farms just chucking hot air out whilst a hundred yards away they’re burning gas and oil to heat a building.

    On the OTHER hand, who’s he to f*** up other players and block inward investment? There’s a need for DCs, and yay if they’re efficient and a smart design, but he’s not building his.

    Either crap or get off the pot, man.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      "Makes me fume when I see DCs and freezer farms just chucking hot air out whilst a hundred yards away they’re burning gas and oil to heat a building."

      It makes you fume until you cost how MUCH it costs to catch that very low grade waste heat and reuse it for building heating. I looked into this for a project - it was going to more than doulble the capital costs and be more expensive to operate than burning gas and oil separately (I know, it doesn't make much sense to me either). Most of that has to do with the factor of needing to run chillers continuously to pump heat from the "cold" side to the "hot" side instead of simply using 'free-cooling' solutions.

      About the only way you can make waste heat recapture viable is to make it part of the whole building design and plonk a residential bloc on top of the datacentre.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Make it part of the design. Exactly. This isn’t a retrofit. Besides, I’m used to hospitals. Always need warm air.

        Or agriculture. Hot house. Banananananas.

        1. Alister

          Re: Mixed feelings


          is that for Dakakakakaris?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Mixed feelings

            Wid' d' ruuuuuuuuuuuummm.

      2. Olivier2553

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Most of that has to do with the factor of needing to run chillers continuously to pump heat from the "cold" side to the "hot" side instead of simply using 'free-cooling' solutions.

        DC run continuously, so they produce heat continuously. Unless you suggest that one should simply open the window to provide cooling during winter, some form of air-conditioning will be running to remove that heat from the DC. Instead of throwing that heat in the air, it could be first go through a large tank of water and if there is any residual heat, it be dissipated in the atmosphere.

        Warm water can be used for what you see fit.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Mixed feelings

          Water-cooled racks & kit are a win-win. It's the future! Much higher specific heat capacity, much easier to move that energy around. Heat exchange it with a district heating system.

  13. Korev Silver badge
    Big Brother


    To me, Echelon makes me think of the Five Eyes organisation; maybe not a name association that the company wants...

  14. Blockchain commentard

    So, how big is a 100MW data centre? Server racks are pretty standard but the PSU's in them aren't. Can we have an official el Reg unit of measurement for number of servers in a data centre to provide a standard for data planners to use?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Assuming large enterprise, roughly 28,800 cabinets. A smidge under 30 acres worth.

      For cloud, divide those figures by 3. For HPC, divide by 4.

      Roughly. Back of an envelope smudged with my thumb ruler.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        100MW over 28,800 cabinets is only 3.5kW/cabinet, which is on the low side of what I'd expect in a large datacentre.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          My calculation is based on a design target average power per cabinet of ~6kW, includes ~26% unit power uncertainty and a managed power rate of 80%. The space calculation works out at 200 rooms with 10 pods per room and 10-12 cabinets per pod. 1 pod per room is reserved for staging, 5% of the racks are for ancillary systems and 30% of space is reserved for egress, circulation space, robotics, ramps, support columns etc. The cabinet numbers are given for the maximum capability of the facility - the expected occupancy would be 20,000 racks.

          As I said, it's only a rough estimate based on the kind of mixed architecture typical to an enterprise DC. Cloud storage and HPC are much denser architectures. I might have lied when I said it was worked out on the back of an envelope... it was worked out on the back of some calculation sheets I picked up from the APC & Schneider stands at Data Centre World a couple of weeks ago.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Also needs a little expansion, ie 100MW total energy, ie thermal + electricity to the racks. Usual challenge is naturally as you increase power density per rack, you also increase the energy needed to cool it. Given it's a single tenant DC rather than general collo, at least they'll have more control over that.

        3. TheVogon

          Yep 20KW or so per cab would be more normal for modern high density kit. 6-10KW is about the max for standard cold aisle cooling though.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I remember reading about Apple having someone blocking their construction of a data center, but I assumed he was some sort of NIMBY who didn't want all the construction traffic near where he lives. Didn't realize he was merely trying to hamstring the competition...pathetic!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      I don't see why this is "pathetic" - hamstringing the competition is part of doing business.

      If your competitors don't cross their Ts and dot their Is when you're certainly expected to... then you have to call them out on it.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Wow

        im sure apple have never tried to hamstring their opposition. No siree. They dont seem the type of company to keep people under silly legal mire at all.

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