The Irish High Court has dismissed a father and daughter's legal attempt to block a data center in County Meath.
Mannix Coyne and his daughter Amy Coyne had claimed a decision by Irish planning regulator An Bord Pleanála to allow a 180MW data center to be built near their home breached several constitutional rights.
Irish data center firm EngineNode was granted permission to build a data center campus in Bracetown and Gunnocks in July 2022 after An Bord Pleanála dismissed complaints from a number of local and environmental groups trying to prevent the development, as well as the company’s own attempts to remove certain conditions around development.
The Coynes, both residents of Bracetown, Clonee, filed a lawsuit claiming An Bord Pleanála’s decision was "flawed, invalid, and should be set aside," arguing it did not comply with planning regulations, the 2000 Planning and Development Act, the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessments, and the EU Habitats Directive.
However, as reported by the Irish Times, Justice David Holland last week rejected all grounds of the Coynes’ arguments.
Dublin-based EngineNode was founded in 2018 by Jason O'Conaill, Eir's former head of data centers and founder of Amazon Web Services Usergroup Ireland, and Ronan Kneafsey, a former managing director of telecoms and data centers at Eir.
The company first submitted plans to build four two-story data centers with a combined gross floor area of ~92,100 sqm (990,000 sq ft) and a substation on the 24.5-hectare site in 2019. The on-site "energy center’ has since been removed from the plans.
Meath County Council originally granted permission for the facility last year but on the condition the company pay €1.85 million ($2.1m) towards the new Bracetown Link Road, which it tried to challenge. John Spain Associates, consultants for EngineNode, said there was insufficient basis provided to require EngineNode to pay the “considerable” contribution.
Meath County's decision was also challenged by groups including An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), who took the issue to An Bord Pleanála. However, these have now been dismissed.
Around the same time, Facebook claimed EngineNode had tried to build on lands owned by the social media giant without permission. The social media company operates a data center in Clonee, through its subsidiary Runways Information Services Limited to the south of EngineNode’s planned development. According to An Bord Pleanála, EngineNode’s proposed works included the provision of a roundabout and road through FB's lands without permission.