Google starts building £790m site in Hertfordshire

A CGI graphic of the data centrePA Media

Google has invested $1bn (£790m) to build its first UK data centre.

The tech giant said construction had started at a 33-acre site in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, and hoped it would be completed by 2025.

Google stressed it was too early to say how many jobs would be created but it would need engineers, project managers, data centre technicians, electricians, catering and security personnel.

The prime minister said it showed the UK had “huge potential for growth”.

The project marked the latest investment by a major US tech firm in Britain, after Microsoft announced it would invest £2.5bn to expand data centres for artificial intelligence (AI) across the UK.

A CGI graphic of the data centre

PA Media

The new Hertfordshire facility would add to Google’s 27 data centres worldwide, with sites across 11 countries and 13 in the US.

It said the site would help power popular digital services, such as Google Cloud, Gmail, Docs, Sheets, search and maps.

It would also “play a critical role in supporting the company’s AI innovations and will provide the UK with much-needed compute capacity”.

Google said the facility would be constructed in line with net-zero aims and it planned for significant heat generated by the data centre to be used to heat homes and businesses in the local area.

‘Growing demand’

Google already has more than 7,000 staff in the UK and sites in King’s Cross, Central Saint Giles and Victoria in London and Manchester.

Its DeepMind AI research and development lab is also based in London.

Ruth Porat, president, chief investment officer and chief financial officer of Google, said: “This new data centre will help meet growing demand for our AI and cloud services”.

She said it would “bring crucial compute capacity to businesses across the UK while creating construction and technical jobs for the local community.”

A sign near the Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Foreign investment creates jobs and grows all regions of our economy, and investments like this will help to drive growth in the decade ahead.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, added: “From business conducted online to advancements in healthcare, every growing economy relies on data centres.

“Our country is no different and this major $1bn investment from Google is a huge vote of confidence in Britain as the largest tech economy in Europe.”

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