Noord Holland takes local council’s data centre expansion to court

The interior of a server farm. Photo:
The interior of a server farm. Photo:

The province of Noord-Holland is taking legal action against Microsoft for building a massive data centre along the A7 motorway in the latest twist in the province’s dispute with local council Hollands Kroon.

The aim of the case is to establish who has the right to decide if data centres can be built and who is responsible for giving the licence.

Hollands Kroon maintains that it is responsible for the decision-making progress, and has made attracting data centres a key part of the local economy. Google and Microsoft currently have data centres at the site, and in January Hollands Kroon handed out a third permit. Four more server farms are at the planning stage.

Last month the Telegraaf reported that the province had asked the state attorney to look into permits for building the additional five large data centres and to decide if Hollands Kroon has acted within the law in granting permits for the data farms, which will cover an additional 160 hectares when completed.

Data farms are huge consumers of energy and, protestors say, will use up much of the electricity from massive wind turbines in the area, which were sold to locals as ‘green energy for private homes’.

A number of lawyers and environmental campaigners also say that permits for the server farms should have been granted by the province, not the local authority. In addition, Hollands Kroon has been able to cash in millions of euros in permit fees and other charges.

Last November, the NRC said Hollands Kroon’s plans to build five more data centres along the A7 motorway, is dividing local politicians and MPs and driving out farmers.

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