An inter-Government disagreement about which body has the authority to issue data center permits has led to Microsoft facing enforcement procedures in the Netherlands.

First reported in De Telegraf, a dispute has arisen whether the province of Noord-Holland or the municipality of Hollands Kroon is the competent authority to issue permits for data centers as a result of Microsoft’s attempts to build a facility in the region.

Noord-Holland says Microsoft lacks a data center permit

Hollands Kroon
– Hollands Kroon Municipality

Microsoft was granted an environmental permit to build its second data center in Hollands Kroon, Northwest Netherlands, in January of this year. It has been been controversial with industry: a local agricultural association filed an appeal against the proposed facility.

The Hollands Kroon municipality initially decided that the municipal council was allowed to decide permits around data centers. The North Holland provincial government then hired the state attorney to clarify whether this was the case.

“The Commission is of the opinion that the Provincial Executive is the competent authority for the Microsoft data centers in Hollands Kroon,” according to a list of decisions published on Wednesday.

“This is in line with the position of the State and comparable situations in Flevoland and Groningen. The College of Hollands Kroon maintains its position that it is the competent authority.”

As a result of the ruling, the province has not granted a license for a data center, and so the provincial government is starting an “enforcement procedure against Microsoft for operating/establishing an establishment without a permit.”

The Hollands Kroon document does not expand on what the enforcement action would or could be for lacking the correct permits.

De Telegraf reports that the Hollands Kroon municipality had previously been warned by lawyers in 2018 that it did not have the authority around data center permits, but says that the municipality “did not want to budge” and felt that it was still allowed to make decisions on the matter.