Buckinghamshire Council has refused plans to build a 72,000 sqm data centre by the M25 due to the ‘harm’ it would cause to the Green Belt.

The new technology site was proposed at Iver’s Woodlands Park landfill site on land south of Slough Road between junction 16 of the M40 junction 15 of the M4.

The council’s refusal of the plans comes after a bid for an even larger data centre of 163,000 sqm on the same site appeal was dismissed by the Secretary of State in October last year.

The latest outline planning application for the site, which has also been refused, said the data centre would be less than half the size than that previously proposed.

The site would have also been spread across two buildings – rather than three as before – with each to be a maximum height of 18m, including external vents, which marked a reduction from the 27m previously proposed.

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Plans included offices, emergency back-up generators, fuel storage facilities, cycle and car parking, security perimeter fence, lighting, landscaping a substation and other infrastructure.

However, the council said it had received 63 letters of objection to the plans, including from Joy Morrissey MP and the Ivers Parish Council.

Many of those opposed to the proposals cited their concerns for Green Belt land and planning officers agreed in their decision notice.

It read: “The proposed development would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt, would result in harm to the openness of the Green Belt in both spatial and visual terms, and would conflict with the purposes of including land within the Green Belt.”

The document added: “Substantial weight is given to the harm to the Green Belt. Other harm has been identified to the character and appearance of the area, to air quality and to habitats of protected species.”

The application for the data centre was made by the UK arm of Altrad, the construction giant run by French-Syrian billionaire Mohamed Altrad, as well as Greystoke Land, a company with ownership links to the influential Berry family.

A design statement prepared for the applicants claimed the new data centre would create direct jobs from construction as well as ‘indirect employment in the supply chain’.

It also said that the data centre would have brought environment benefits, including from landscaping to strengthen the River Colne corridor and the creation of new areas of grassland.

The document also said that the plans had been ‘landscape-led’, that the buildings would feature ‘living green walls’ and that there would be a ‘comprehensive scheme of landscaping and biodiversity enhancements’ with at least a 10 per cent biodiversity net gain.

Data centres are effectively warehouses that house computer servers and are sometimes clustered together in the same region.

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