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Data Centre Proposal

The proposal is for a data centre campus to be developed to the immediate east of the operational Didcot B Power Station.  The campus would be accessed via the new Science Bridge Road which will run to the immediate south of the site. Please see location plan below.

Data Centre Context


RWE’s Didcot A site, formerly home to its coal fired Power Station, is well positioned for further re-development, benefiting from its location close to both electricity and gas transmission grids, availability of cooling water from the River Thames and its proximity to Didcot Railway Station.

​It is unlikely, however, that any future power  projects would require a significant proportion of the land available for redevelopment and accordingly RWE has devised a broader redevelopment strategy which considers opportunities for alternative uses.

Over 18 months the project team has been talking to organisations such as Oxfordshire County Council, the Vale of White Horse District Council and other stakeholders with an interest in the redevelopment of the site. This early phase of consultation was to understand the possible scope of redevelopment and the planning requirements to achieve consent.

Didcot Data Campus

Why a data centre development?

We are looking at a range of options, including power projects, however the site is large, and RWE will not need all of the available land for future power projects, hence we are considering alternatives. 

Data and digital infrastructure is a major sector of the economy.  It continues to grow due to the immense growth and reliance on it by reason of the accelerated changes forced upon the economy and society by the global pandemic.  The site is well located in terms of the availability of power and data connections and the proposed data campus will provide a positive use for a previously developed part of Didcot, in an area with other similar and compatible types of development.

How long will the planning process take?

Initial work on the preparation of a planning application has begun and it is anticipated that it will be finalised and submitted to the Council in Spring 2022.

If approved, when would you start construction?

We are in the early stages of planning for the project and it is unlikely that construction will commence in the next two years.  RWE will engage with experienced operators and owners of data technology to take this project forward. Data centre development is already taking place on land adjacent to the site. Didcot is seen as a good data centre location because of its proximity to London and the presence of an excellent high-speed broadband.  Data Centre development also accords with the Council’s vision for the delivery of a high-tech economy.

What will it look like?

The development will enhance the appearance of the site and area, with a mixed development including green spaces and opportunities for the future development of other businesses.  An illustrative masterplan option will be shared to support further consultation as part of the planning application.

What is a data centre?

A data centre is a building, or a group of buildings used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and electronic storage systems.


A typical data centre can support hundreds of physical servers and thousands of virtual machines. A hyperscaled data centre is less about magnitude and more about scalability. Every system within a hyperscale data centre is developed for speed and data storage and is often operated by large service providers such as Google and Apple.

Why are Data Centres needed?

The demand for data processing power, storage space and information are growing. Any entity that generates or uses data has the need for data centres on some level, including government agencies, educational bodies, telecommunications companies, financial institutions, retailers of all sizes, and social networking services such as Google.

The demand for data management and processing continues to grow rapidly and is expected to rise to 40 zettabytes this year [sources: Courtney, Digital Science Series, EMC]. All this data must be stored somewhere. The use of Cloud applications is also growing across sectors.  The cloud is hardware and software maintained at remote locations where customers can access them via the Internet, those locations are data centres.

Delivery of the Campus

How many people would be employed during the development?

Building of the campus would require a substantial construction workforce over several years creating local employment opportunities. Once operational a data centre is likely to require a significant number of highly skilled employees to maintain and operate the installation.

Who will deliver the data centres?

RWE will engage with experienced data centre operators and owners to take this project forward. It is not RWEs intention to own or operate the installation. Construction is dependent on future market conditions, commercial considerations and planning and environment permits being in place.

Which consenting organisations have you spoken to?

It is important to have early dialogue with regulatory and consenting organisations to understand their survey and modelling requirements should permission be sought to construct in the future.  We are currently talking to organisations such as the Vale of White Horse DC, Oxfordshire CC regarding the site’s redevelopment.  We will also consult with the Environment Agency, Natural England, and other stakeholders with an interest in the site.

Who are the partners involved in the Data centre development?

RWE owns the land and is developing options, however RWE  will bring in specialist services and companies throughout the feasibility stages. Ultimately RWE’s development partner will deliver the data centre.  This partner is not currently known.

When will more information be available?

The next steps are consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including the local community, following this we will prepare a planning application. If planning permission is granted for the redevelopment of the site, engagement will begin with established and experienced operators of data centres. After establishing an operator and owner of the asset a full stakeholder and public consultation on the final design will take place.  Only if, and when, these details are permitted by the Vale of White Horse District Council will the delivery of the first data centre commence.

Where will the data centre be located?

There is an area of around 27 Hectares for redevelopment. The proposed data centres will be located on the former Didcot A Power Station site. The exact location of any development would be determined in the feasibility and planning stages. This area will be defined in any future planning application.

What are the key planning considerations?

A significant number of assessments will be undertaken to determine the suitability of the development proposed by RWE.  A landscape and visual impact assessment will be undertaken to assess the potential visual impacts of the proposed data centres. This assessment will determine the need for any mitigation measures and landscaping requirements.  Further detailed assessments will also be undertaken to ensure impacts in relation to ecology, transport, flood risk, noise, air quality and contaminated land are properly considered.  It is proposed that site access is provided via the Didcot Science Bridge Road (Oxfordshire County Council’s strategic distributor road connection to the A4130, over the Great Western Mainline). The development will therefore align with and support the wider package of local highway improvements for Didcot which are being delivered by Oxfordshire County Council.

Project Key Messages


The former Didcot A power station site is circa 27 hectares in size and offers a unique industrial backdrop for development opportunities


We are looking at a range of options, including power projects, however the site is large, and RWE will not need all of the available land for future power projects, hence we are considering alternatives.


Data centre developments provide the infrastructure that business require to operate.  They provides the ability for businesses to manage data to improve agility and ensure that computer systems have ongoing connectivity to the internet or other business networks.  Data centres also host websites, manage e-mails, and instant messaging services.  These services benefit the business community as a whole. 


The data centre development will encompass around 25% of green space and improve biodiversity on the Didcot A Power Station site.


RWE will offer operators of the data centres a renewables power supply from its wind farm developments around the UK. Additionally it owns and operates Didcot B, a gas fired power station adjacent to the proposed development and this could offer a direct power supply


A data centre development on this site will offer local jobs during the construction phase.  It also offers highly skilled jobs once operational on a shift pattern basis.

What has been done

so far?

To date, RWE has consulted with the Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council regarding the redevelopment of the site. In considering development options early feasibility work is required to ensure compatibility with existing uses. Consequently,  a broad range of environmental surveys are being undertaken to determine  existing site conditions, including  ground conditions, local road conditions and habitat sensitivities in the area. This early survey information form the basis of the concept proposal and the guiding principles for a future planning application.

What are we planning?

Following recent discussions with stakeholders a number of options have been explored for redevelopment and future provision of data centres on the site of the recently demolished Didcot A Power Station site. A concept proposal has been developed which identifies the intended areas for development, enhanced green infrastructure, drainage and site access to support the proposed data centres. These are shown on the supporting plan of the concept scheme.

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