Birr electrical generation facility mooted

Further details of a “electrical generation facility” mooted for the former Midland Tribune building in Birr have emerged in a newly lodged planning application.

James Fanning is seeking approval from Offaly County Council to press ahead with a proposal to change the use of part of the building in Syngefield, to a power generation station with dispatchable generators.

There are five dispatchable generators proposed for the prominent 0.817 hectare site, to the east of the town centre, which most recently was home to the Midland Web Printing Ltd.

The dispatchable generators would “back up the national electricity grid when required with a power output of 10MW,” according to the planning application.

“The Commission of Regulation of Utilities (CRU) rules requires the provision of dispatchable generators to back up the grid as a requirement for future development plans for a new data centre,” it adds, under the heading 'nature and extent of proposed use in the application form' accompanying the planning documents.

Another report which forms part of the planning documents refers to a “proposed data centre, Clonoghill Upper, Birr”.

The proposed generators would be installed with an existing portal framed building located at the rear of the Birr site. They would be "emergency use generators" used to back up the main grid in "emergency situations".

"When the proposed new facility is completed, (if granted) it is envisaged that the site will be managed remotely, but will have regular maintenance checks by 1-2 staff for short periods of time," the documents lodged in support of the project on April 28 also reveal.

The installation of an ancilliary electricity substation to accommodate the proposed development is also included in the project.

A decision is due from planners in Offaly County Council by June 22 next.