An appeal against a Microsoft data center in the Netherlands has been filed by an agricultural special interest group.

Microsoft was granted an environmental permit to build its second data center in Hollands Kroon, Northwest Netherlands, in January of this year. The approval was given despite locals lodging a number of complaints attempting to stop construction, including from protest group Red de Wieringermeer, over a number of issues including lack of local consultation and environmental impact.

Now the Agriculture and Horticulture Organization (LTO), a special interest group representing more than 35,000 agricultural entrepreneurs including farmers and horticulturists in the Netherlands, is filing an appeal against the license Microsoft was granted by the municipality.

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Farmers versus data centers in the Netherlands

Hollands Kroon
– Hollands Kroon Municipality

The LTO believes that the interests of the farmers have not been sufficiently considered and that the consequences of the construction of a new data center have not been properly assessed and that new facilities will impact agricultural efforts.

“With regard to the large-scale spatial developments in the Wieringermeer, we are taking a critical look at municipal policy,” said Wim Mostert, chairman of LTO Noord Hollands Kroon.

“It goes against the interests of our members,” added Mostert. “Permits are easily granted, without clear frameworks being set in advance and the consequences properly weighed up. Matters such as cooling water consumption, nitrogen emissions, and the scale of the developments are of concern for the agricultural sector in the area.”

In addition to the other Microsoft facility, the Agriport A7 business park in Middenmeer is also home to a Google data center. A CyrusOne data center and an unidentified 'Project Luna' data center are also on the way.

“Recent research by the University of Amsterdam, carried out on behalf of the municipality and LTO Noord, shows that the agricultural sector in Hollands Kroon cannot spare a hectare,” said the LTO in a press statement. “Further expansion of the area around Agriport is, therefore, an undesirable development for the agricultural sector throughout Hollands Kroon.”

The municipality of Hollands Kroon also recently posted a statement around allegations it is not the competent authority to grant permits for the construction of data centers, saying authorities are jointly exploring the possibilities of obtaining clarity about the division of powers regarding the licensing of data centers from a judge. There is an ongoing debate over whether the municipality or the province has the authority to grant data center permits.

Microsoft told NH Nieuws that it will continue to work closely with the municipality of Hollands Kroon and other stakeholders such as LTO Noord so that its plans “continue to comply with laws and regulations and take into account the valuable input of the local community.”

“For us, dialog is an essential prerequisite for developing data centers that serve the interests not only of all people who use technology in their private and work lives, but also those of local governments, residents and organizations. the latest technology to sustainably develop and run data centers in line with the goals of our Carbon Negative program,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.