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Shannonbridge being pushed as data centre location

Thursday, 23 August 2018

SHANNONBRIDGE is being mooted as an "ideal location" for a data centre and should be prioritised as a suitable site for future investment, one local TD stated this week.
In a statement to the Tribune, Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said: "The announcement this summer of another 200 new jobs in the tech sector is increasingly serving to make Athlone, the Silicon Heartlands. On the basis of existing jobs in the tech sector in Athlone and recent job announcements, Athlone is expected to have in excess of 15% of its total workforce employed in the IT and software sector. Data suggests that this is a bigger percentage of tech employment per capita than Dublin.
"This concentration of employment will have a positive spin off for other towns in the region due to the support services and infrastructure required to maintain the intensification of the technology companies in the region. The Government under its Project Ireland 2040 has committed to ensuring that towns like Tullamore attract this increased investment. A significant proportion of the workforce in Athlone commutes from across the region including many from here in Offaly."
Continuing, the local TD believed the county should be competing for large infrastructural projects like data centres especially in the context of sites where there's existing infrastructure from the Offaly's "illustrious history of mining and energy generation". She recently had discussions with professionals, who advised me that Shannonbridge is an "ideal site for a data centre, similar in scale to the Apple data centre that was intended for Athenry".
" The site of the old ESB station in Shannonbridge would be a perfect site for a data centre and I believe it would be great to see a new modern purpose for the West Offaly site. The close proximity and accessibility of a sustainable source of water is a key factor in this site's attractiveness," the Fine Gael TD said.
"The decision by Apple not to proceed with its planned data centre in Athenry after a prolonged planning and legal process was a big blow for the region and it clearly underpins the need for change in Ireland's planning and legal process."
"The Government has declared its commitment to ensuring that our planning process becomes more efficient to ensure that we are in a position to facilitate the development of large infrastructural developments and take advantage of investment opportunities in the future."
According to the TD, to ensure the Midlands continues to be a leader in the technology sector, the development of regional data centres will be required to support this continued development in the digital economy. "Government policy is to encourage the development of data centres in the regions where there is less pressure on energy infrastructure compared to the larger urban centres."
"I have contacted the IDA to ensure that serious consideration is given to sites like Shannonbridge for the development of data centres," she added. Meanwhile, the Tribune contacted IDA Ireland in relation to this matter. A spokesperson for the company said they are "happy to engage with the owners of any large landbank that becomes available to ascertain its suitabilty and determine if it has the necessary requirements to support the suitable development of a data centre".

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