‘Silicon Sands’ data center campus in Blackpool given green light

Artists impression of the Silicon Sands data center site, located in Blackpool.
(Image credit: Blackpool Council)

Blackpool Council has released plans for a new high-performance data center campus dubbed 'Silicon Sands'.

The new development, set to be housed at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, will cover 40 acres. The 15,000 sq ft data center will consist of a 6,000 sq ft ground floor data hall, with office and research space above.

It will also include development land for businesses which could benefit from direct access to a data center, including high performance sectors such as AI, telehealth, advanced manufacturing and gaming.

The council said that the site's combination of internet connectivity, renewable power supplies, and available land will make Silicon Sands an attractive proposition for inward investment.

The town is already home to the Celtix-Connect2 internet cable, connecting it to New York, Dublin, and northern Europe as part of the North Atlantic Loop, which carries up to one-third of the world’s internet traffic.

More locally, the site's low latency connectivity to the rest of Lancashire could, the council said, create significant inward investment on the Fylde Coast in a similar way to the development of data center clusters in Dublin and New York.

A National Cyber Force has been proposed in Samlesbury, and there are a number of advanced manufacturing companies across the region.

"Silicon Sands has the potential to be a complete game-changer in our plans to make Blackpool better. With the power supply, land availability and ultra-fast internet access, we can sit at the heart of a new digital revolution not just for the town, but for the entire region," said councilor Mark Smith, cabinet member for leveling up at Blackpool Council.

"For Blackpool, this could mean significant inward investment and thousands of well-paid new jobs across the Fylde Coast, which in turn will retain the talent of our young people in Blackpool rather than losing them to other parts of the country, as well allowing high performance businesses of the future to grow fast on the Fylde Coast."

Silicon Sands will offer at least 50MVA of renewable energy through an agreement with Electricity North West and a potential solar farm. It has 32MVA confirmed primary substation, along with a planned 20MVA solar farm and 50MW battery storage capacity, together with private wire connections to sustainable energy generators.

Meanwhile, the site will use liquid immersion cooling technologies which the council said will make the data centers up to 50% more energy efficient.

Feasibility studies are also being carried out into connecting Silicon Sands to a district heat network, with waste heat from the data centers being re-used to heat the surrounding new businesses, as well as Blackpool Airport.

"For the data center industry, Silicon Sands offers the chance to reduce its impact on the environment and on the National Grid and show a modern climate friendly future that can have major regeneration benefits," Smith said.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.