An Bord Pleanála (ABP) chairperson Dave Walsh voted to approve a €350 million data centre less than a kilometre from his home.
ABP’s code of conduct states board members “shall not knowingly deal with a file or other matter or participate in determining a case concerning his/her own immediate neighbourhood”.
Walsh however, when asked earlier today by The Ditch if he felt it was inappropriate to vote on the application, simply said, “No”.
The chairperson in July of this year appeared before the Public Accounts Committee where he was questioned by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster on the issue of board members voting on applications in their own neighbourhoods.
“I grew up in north Dublin. My mother is still there. If a case involving her street or the street beside her came before us, I would not be involved because of the potential risk of conflict,” said Walsh.
His vote in favour of Amazon’s data centre concerned a site located on the same road as his current primary residence.
Just 900 metres from his home
Meath County Council in June 2021 granted Amazon-controlled firm Tunis Properties LLC permission to build a data centre at Drogheda IDA Business & Technology Park on Donore Road. The 28,566 square metre centre would be the second of its kind at the site on the border of counties Meath and Louth.
The following month An Taisce appealed the decision.
In its appeal, An Taisce argued that local authorities and ABP were granting permission for data centres on a case-by-case basis without adequately assessing the cumulative impacts of energy use. They further claimed that data centres would account for an unacceptable 31 percent of Ireland’s grid-generated electricity by 2027.
ABP chairperson Dave Walsh’s home is just 900 metres from the site.
When An Taisce’s appeal came before the ABP board, Walsh voted on it.
On April 5 of this year the chairperson, along with fellow board members Michelle Fagan and Maria Fitzgerald, voted to grant permission for the 48-megawatt data centre.
Earlier this afternoon The Ditch called to Walsh’s house on Donore road, Drogheda, county Meath. He denied any wrongdoing.
He said there was no definition of “immediate neighbourhood” in ABP’s code of conduct and that he did not believe it was inappropriate to vote on the decision to approve the Amazon data centre.
It wasn’t the first time that Walsh voted on a development at the Amazon site on Donore Road – the same road where he lives.
On October 29, 2020 Walsh signed a decision permitting the multinational to submit an application directly to ABP for permission to build substations and transformers at the Drogheda data centre.
ABP is currently embroiled in controversy following a series of allegations against its former deputy chairperson Paul Hyde first published by The Ditch. Hyde is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation led by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.
Separately over the past few months The Ditch and Irish Examiner have published a series of stories on board member Michelle Fagan voting on applications in her own neighbourhood.