Last week Cabinet heard more about plans for a new data centre in East Havering.

The centre is proposed to deliver a low carbon data facility, a centre for research and development in low carbon industry, food production and green energy solutions.

Digital Reef, who have put forward plans for the data centre, have chosen this location as it uniquely offers access to both power and the backbone data connections to the continent.

Potential tenants have already come forward which means the project is more viable than ever before.

This would also create new employment opportunities of around 10,000 jobs, but only around 30 – 50 employees would be expected to be at the site at the same time meaning there will be a low impact on local roads.

Digital Reef’s £113m 6 year investment in a local power station at Warley, and additional grid infrastructure on site will enable the additional connection of 560MW of Green energy production for other existing grid customers delivering Solar, Wind, Battery and green hydrogen projects within the borough.

The investment at Warley would also create further additional capacity for future green energy connections all of which would help the borough’s ambitions to become a leading ‘Green Energy first’ authority.

The green energy production at the site would  offset almost double the required energy to run the data centre campus making the campus truly Zero Carbon in operation delivering the project’s Zero Carbon Data ambitions.

To support these green credentials, the University of Leicester, would establish the Earth and Space Sustainability Institute which has as its core purpose the monitoring of agricultural, industrial and other land use activity to improve the sustainability of the planet.

It would also open up more than 105 hectares of green space for public use as an ecology park, additionally, the proposals look to use waste heat energy for a vertical farm delivering up to 20% more efficient yield of crops than traditional farming methods.

The project will now go through the proper independent planning process of either coming through the Council’s Planning Committee as the Local Planning Authority or by the making of a Local Development Order. It will be presented at Strategic Planning Committee on Thursday 20 April.

If given the green light is given, the borough would also benefit from increased business rate income, as well as the normal developer contributions such as Section 106 money that comes with investments of this scale to improve local infrastructure.

There would also be an additional £9m Development Premium, in the same way as other large investments such as the Olympic Park, which would be used to maximise the legacy of the investment so that local people benefited from the project.

Councillor Graham Williamson, Cabinet member for Regeneration, said:

“This opportunity would be a game changer for the borough.

"Residents would benefit through job opportunities, skills and training.

"It would make Havering the epicentre of research in green energy, bio diversity and much, much more.

“We are really pleased Digital Reef are wanting to invest in the borough which would open a number of other opportunities for us.

"It would also bring with it better access to green spaces for residents as well as being carbon neutral and helping the borough meet its objectives as set out in the climate action plan.

“This will now go through the proper planning process and, if successful, it will also mean additional business rates for the council and development contributions to help improve infrastructure and support community projects.”

Published: 20 April 2023