A long-proposed Google data center project in Bissen, Luxembourg, took a small step forward after years of delays.

The country's Ministry of the Interior approved the partial development plan for the project, following the Bissen municipal council voting in favor of the plan back in October 2020.

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A big data center in a small country

– Google

The full $1.2bn data center would be one of the largest developments of any kind in the small country, and would be the largest single user of electricity.

It would also use large amounts of water, and potentially cause noise pollution. These concerns led to the creation of two citizens' groups, and a concerted campaign to block the project - which was first announced in 2016, but had been underway for years before.

“People were interested at first,” Daniel Hientgen, president of Pro Bissen, told Politico EU last year.

“But now, they’re starting to increasingly realize that the data center will represent few jobs, barely any taxes, no scientific contribution - basically, only risks.”

Local mayor David Viaggi told Reporter.lu that criticisms had been incorporated into the drafting of the plan, including an agreement not to use drinking water for cooling.

Viaggi became mayor after the data center split the local community, including politicians. In 2019, two councilors of the ruling CSV party voted against the party line and against the data center.

Then-mayor Jos Schummer resigned from the CSV, briefly continuing as an independent while a new government was formed. His resignation was joined by one of the councilors, while two CSV party aldermen tendered their resignation shortly after.

The data center passed that vote, and has steadily passed other crucial votes - but others still remain.

When Google first revealed it would spend €1 billion on a data center in the country, the company told the country to force a farmer to sell his land, or it would pull out of the project.

“The Americans do not understand why it takes so long," then-Economy Minister Etienne Schneider said at the time.