Meta (née Facebook) has seen its plans for a data center in Zeewolde hit another hurdle, as lawmakers in the Netherlands this week voted in favor of a motion to prevent further groundworks on the site.
Despite the Zeewolde council previously approving the zoning change and plans for the 200MW data center, it is currently prevented from being built as part of the land intended for the facility belongs to the government, which recently announced new and stricter rules for hyperscale developments.
In addition, the Dutch Senate has now voted on a motion to stop any further site preparation, while the government remains in negotiations around the land sale.
On Tuesday 22 March, the Senate voted in favor of a motion by Senator Niko Koffeman (PvdD) that requests the government to force the municipality of Zeewolde to temporarily stop further preparations on the site, on the basis of conflict with the public interest.
Whether the government led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte will follow the motion and stop site work is unclear at this time.
GroenLinks, D66, Fractie-Nanninga, PvdA, PVV, SP, ChristenUnie, PvdD, FVD, Fractie-Otten, SGP and 50PLUS supported the motion, the VVD and CDA voted against. The OSF fraction was absent.
"This is a purely political decision," Dutch Data Center Association managing director Stijn Grove said in a reaction sent to Reuters, adding that it had been made "largely because it is Facebook."
The proposed facility will potentially have five halls and use 200MW of power. Should it go ahead, it will be built on 166 hectares (410 acres) of farmland, currently known as Trekkersveld IV (Tractor field IV).
This week Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge spoke out against the development, saying: “The Netherlands is too small for those very large data centers.”
Separate from this week’s vote, de Jonge and the municipality are still discussing the requirements around the sale of the government-owned land for the data center. These will include energy consumption, energy recovery, and a number of environmental requirements. In December 2021, the Senate adopted a motion by Koffeman to temporarily suspend the sale of the land for the data center.
The previous motion to temporarily ban hyperscale developments in the Netherlands hadn’t affected the Meta data center as it was already approved prior to announcing the company’s identity and before the introduction of the moratorium. The province of Flevoland last year also enforced a temporary data center moratorium, which the facility avoided.
Locally, recent Zeewolde election results saw the Leefbaar (Livable) Zeewolde political party gain a majority on an anti-data center campaign. Bloomberg reports that the party this week submitted a request to reconsider Meta’s previously approved zoning plan, which the Senate voted in favor of on Tuesday.
Meta currently has three European data center campuses in Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland, and has recently announced plans for a facility in Spain. The social media firm has also bought land in the Esbjer region of Denmark with a view to potentially building a facility.
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