Plans to build a €100m. euro state-of-the-art data centre at Bridgend, which could generate thousands of new hi-tech jobs within five years of commencing operation, have received a massive boost following site approval for the project from An Bord Pleanala.
Dungiven business man, Francie McNicholl, said this was “a huge project” in that it was planned to build two centres – one in Derry and another, the larger one, in Donegal – and the potential was unlimited.
“This will be a massive boost for the Border area,” he stated.
Mr. McNicholl, who owns the Bridgend site, said he was delighted to get planning confirmation last week.
He commented:“Because of planning difficulties we had problems getting this project up and running but now this last obstacle has been cleared we hope to move quickly.
“We have been in touch with a ‘facilitator’ in the UK who has contacts with the major banks and the big players in the hi-tech sector and we are seeking a suitable anchor tenant.
“The funding is available as of now providing we can establish a suitable tenant.
“And the good news is that the data demand worldwide is such that capacity doubles every 18 months. The need for data centres is huge.”
Mr McNicholl said the fact that Derry-Donegal had a huge number of young, well educated people with access to third-level institutions such as Magee and Coleraine Universities in the North and LYIT in Donegal was also a big plus.
The availability of a computer savvy workforce was, he said, paramount.
“Another plus, believe it or not, is our climate. These computers need a temperate climate to function properly and we have that. If they went to India or Morocco they would cost a fortune in air conditioning or they would overheat and cease running.”
It is understood that the development will be a‘tier-four’ data centre. It will link up with the Project Kelvin telehouse to bring faster connectivity to this area.
A senior business source in Derry commented: “Any business process operation that requires data transfer capabilities such as IT centres and financial institutions would benefit greatly from this state-of-the-art tier-four data centre, making it much easier to attract them to this region,”
The Bridgend site is located on the left hand side of the road, opposite the old Irish Customs station, as one travels into Derry on the Buncrana Road.