Wednesday 22 March 2023

Facebook puts Zeewolde data centre plan on hold after protests

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

Facebook parent company Meta has agreed to stop work on setting up a massive data centre near the Flevoland town of Zeewolde, much to the delight of locals.

A majority of MPs on Tuesday urged ministers to stop the construction and one hour later, Meta said it was putting the project on hold.

The dispute over the local council’s green light for the massive data centre took a new twist earlier this month when a political party opposing the project won an absolute majority in the local election.

‘I never expected things would move so quickly,’ said Tom Zonneveld, leader of Leefbaar Zeewolde, after the Meta announcement.

Zeewolde council had voted to amend the zoning plan at the end of December, clearing the way for the data centre to be built.

However, part of the land is owned by national government which which still had to give its approval for the project.

The data centre, or hyperscale, is controversial for several reasons, not least of which that it is being build on agricultural ground. There is also concern about the massive amount of energy needed to power the centre – the equivalent of a small city of 460,000 people.

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