Council asked to back £150m cross-border Data Centre

Guildhall Square, Derry.
Guildhall Square, Derry.

Plans to progress a £150m Data Centre straddling the Derry-Donegal border have been unveiled.

The proposed Data Centre would be located within a Science and Technology Park off the Buncrana Road in the Bridgend area.

In a presentation on behalf of the North West Development Consortium, Michael Faulkner told Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee on Tuesday that planning permission has already been granted on both sides of the border for the major development on an eight acre site.

Mr Faulkner said the Data Centre would be at the top end of Data Centres- Tier 3 or Tier 4 - and engagement is being undertaken with a number of private entities including large financial services firms that might be interested in relocating to the site.

The kind of data involved would be at the higher level such as government data or that belonging to large companies, with the need for such centres expected to soar in the coming five years.

He said that the consortium was seeking the backing and support of the local government bodies going forward for a project that, while in itself wouldn’t create masses of employment, could lead to 5,000 well-paid jobs through spin-off companies wanting to locate near the data centre.

He further said that the Data Centre would link in with the trans-Atlantic telecommunications Project Kelvin hub, something he said had been under-utilised since it was installed 10 years ago, due largely to the financial crisis.

SDLP Councillor John Boyle agreed that Project Kelvin seemed to be under-utilised and said that the Data Centre related to what was clearly “an area of growing need across various sectors”.

The 64,000 sq ft space would include centres across both sides of the border, and would help regenerate an area described by Mr Faulkner as “no man’s land”. While stating that this was “a long-term project that might take five to ten years,” Mr Faulkner said that it had the potential to attract back talented people from the region who have moved abroad for work because of lack of opportunities at home.

He added that an investment of between £150m to £200m over the next 20 years could yield a return of up to £1 billion.