Meta says in a statement that building the data center in Zeewolde “is not the right investment.” A company spokesperson said, “We are in the process of finalizing our development plans and are working closely with the municipality and county to efficiently complete this project.”
According to Meta, there was a lack of “good compatibility with the environment.” At the end of March, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp had already discontinued plans for the data center, which was supposed to become the largest of its kind in Europe with an area of 166 hectares.
City Council against land not sold
The data center was initially able to count on the support of Zeewolde City Council, which approved it in December 2021. However, opponents of the plan won municipal elections in March, leading the majority of residents to oppose the complex’s access.
The government also recently decided not to sell the land on which the data center will be located, because Meta did not meet the conditions set for sustainability and energy use.
Criticisms for energy consumption and residual heat
Big data centers are becoming more and more controversial, because the large energy consumption puts a lot of pressure on the power grid, where space is already very limited.
There are also concerns about water usage and what happens to the residual heat. This residual heat can be harmful to the environment and the surrounding nature. According to opponents, valuable farmland will also be lost and massive data center buildings will stand out on the scene.
Data center proponents pointed to add-ons and tax revenue. The company doesn’t want to say if Meta will look for another Dutch location for a data center.
victory for the voter
“I wasn’t expecting Meta to pull the plug so quickly. We’re glad they made this decision,” replies Tom Sonnefeld, leader of Leefbaar Zeewolde. “This is a victory for the voters. It is now clear throughout the Netherlands also what the disadvantages of these big data centers are.”
In the Netherlands there are about 20 to 25 projects to establish and expand new data centers. It was announced this week that there will be no large data center in Appingedame Groningen for the time being. Groningen municipality does not see space for the planned 22-hectare data center.
The Cabinet recently announced stricter rules for large data centers, which means they may only be allowed in a few regions in Groningen and the northern Netherlands. In February, the Cabinet already said that no building requests would be processed until November for data centers of 10 hectares or more.
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