Monday 17 January 2022

Senate throws spanner in works of Facebook’s giant data centre plans

An artist’s impression of the site. Illustration: Gemeente Zeewolde

Senators have blocked a plan by Facebook’s parent company Meta to build a giant data centre on farmland near Zeewolde.

The upper house passed a motion by the animal rights party PvdD which said the sale of land belonging to the Dutch state should be suspended until the new government produces a detailed strategy for data centres.

Nearly half of the 165-hectare site in Flevoland province is owned by the state. Objections to the plan have focused on the scale of the project, the fact that it is being built on agricultural land and the huge amount of energy the building will consume.

Zeewolde’s municipal council backed a move last week to change the local zoning laws so that construction of the data centre can go ahead. The local GroenLinks party group voted with Labour in support of the plan, angering national party leader Jesse Klaver, who called the councillors’ behaviour ‘extraordinarily stupid’.

The planning decision can still be appealed all the way up to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court.

The outline coalition agreement produced by Mark Rutte’s new team last week includes plans to bring decisions about data centres under the control of the national government rather than local authorities.

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