Havering Green Belt data center would set a ‘dangerous precedent’
An environmental group has warned that a data center project on Havering’s greenbelt would set a ‘dangerous precedent’.
The plan, presented jointly by Havering Council and developer Digital Reefinvolves the construction of 15 warehouse-sized data storage facilities in a new ‘eco park’ off the M25, east of Upminster and Cranham.
Havering Council describes the data center as a “£5.3bn inbound investment” that would create 1,200 local jobs and bring in around £13.5m in revenue over four years.
The proposed site aspires to be carbon neutral, although this can only be achieved by offsetting its energy consumption with the green benefits of the park and its use of renewable energy.
Ian Pirie, coordinator at Havering Friends of the Earth, said the group was “extremely concerned” about the proposal.
He said: “The area to the east of the borough is already going to be badly damaged if the Thames underpass – which we oppose – is moving forward, and constructing new buildings on Greenbelt land would set a dangerous precedent.
“We recognize that the proposal is at a very early stage and would like to comment further when more details become known.”
Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of Havering Council, said any construction on the greenbelt would require ‘very special circumstances’, and therefore ‘no individual case would set a precedent’.
He said: “Through the update to the local plan, we will also look at how to protect good quality, publicly accessible open space in Havering.
“We value our green spaces, which is why the majority of the site, up to 300 acres currently inaccessible to the public, will also become an ecological and community forest park for the public to enjoy. It will in fact open up green spaces, creating valuable ecological corridors, bridle paths and walking and cycling routes from east to west for all to enjoy.
Cllr Morgon added that the loss of farmland will be offset by on-site research and development opportunities, led by the University of Leicester, including the creation of efficient food production.
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