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Issue 4, June 2009


Overcoming negative public perception and technically challenged members of authority can often be the fi rst task when seeking permission to build a data center


t cannot be disputed that data centers are entering the public consciousness. However, this public perception is often marred by unfair media reports of the

IT industry, such as alledgedly burning more fossil fuels and creating greater amounts of CO2 than the aviation sector.

This growing awareness, coupled with poorly fed information, can make the process of getting planning permission increasingly challenging.

Large projects require careful consideration and among those that have overcome the hurdles of gaining approval in the UK are HSBC, which (at the time of going to press) had received local council approval for its Monks Cross data center, but was awaiting fi nal permission before work began. Other projects going ahead or seeking permission in the UK include Telehouse West in London


(see box p39), which took an imaginative approach to power management and reuse to help it gain full permission; and Lockerbie in Scotland (see box, p41), which is seeking permission to build a data center on a greenfi eld site.

Franek Sodzawiczny, development director at data center builder Sentrum, says planners can be awkward, and at times very inconsistent no matter where you build.

“If we take London as an example, you will fi nd that planning submission in one borough is relatively easy, while in the next it can be incredibly diffi cult,” he says.

At the root of this inconsistency is the fact that data center building is still a relatively young industry, in which there remains a lack of knowledge and a great deal of misinformation. This all clouds the decision-making processes

of planners when it comes to agreeing on the site and build of a data center.

In the UK, very few data centers of any scale have been built, compared with, say, large- scale shopping centers, which outnumber data centers tenfold. Historically, data centers have mostly been built within existing property boundaries, such as within larger industrial or enterprise facilities, and geographically, sites have been limited as well.

Many major data centers still cluster around the M25, where large commerce is undertaken, which means planners simply haven’t had much experience when it comes to dealing with a data center planning submission.

That lack of experience has been coupled with a lot of word of mouth about how much energy is used and how ‘unfriendly’ the data center is, complains Sodzawiczny. “Take the

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