I had known that Apple, the US tech giant, was applying for planning permission to build a huge data centre in Athenry. Data centres are being built because of the Irish climate. The fact that it is bogged down in planning while its Danish counterpart is fully built is neither here nor there except to suggest that the Irish planning process needs a real revamp. However, Apple is not alone and there are several large similar facilities within 10 to 15 miles of Dublin. Data centres are enormous and energy intensive. The servers need to be kept at reasonably constant temperatures where not too much energy is needed for air conditioning in summer or heating in winter. Ireland’s climate is ideal for this, but it is also ideal for grass and cereals.

With the development of fungicides and agri chemistry, our yields of cereals are among the highest in the world but we are also one of the few countries where grass plays the key role in the production of milk and beef.