Meta Suspends Plan To Build Dutch Data Centre After Opposition

Political and local opposition in the Netherlands sees Facebook-owner Meta suspend plans to build a giant data centre in Zeewolde

Facebook-owner Meta is suspending plans to build a giant data centre in the Netherlands, following both local and political opposition.

Reuters reported that on Tuesday Meta took the decision a week after the Dutch Senate voted in favour of a motion asking Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government to “use its powers” to temporarily block construction of the site in the northern town of Zeewolde, 50 km east of Amsterdam.

There were also media reports of local opposition to the data centre, despite the previous local council inviting Meta to consider the region in 2019 and approving a zoning plan for the hyperscale data centre.

Hyperscale Data Centre

It seems that the party Leefbaar Zeewolde, which led an election campaign on opposition to the Meta investment, recently gained a majority of seats in the municipality.

Local objections to the data centre reportedly focused on environmental concerns and whether its construction would clash with the country’s national vision for sustainability.

Some residents of Zeewolde also reportedly felt their voices had not been heard in the permitting process.

Meanwhile the Dutch government earlier this year enacted a nine-month moratorium on permits for data centres larger than 10 hectares.

Meta’s hyperscale data centre would have used 1.38 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity and covered 166 hectares (410 acres) of farmland, and was expected to run on green energy and create 400 permanent jobs, Reuters reported.

“Given the current circumstances, we have decided to pause our development efforts in Zeewolde,” a company spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.

“After having been invited in 2019 by the local, provincial and national government to consider a data center investment in the Netherlands and Zeewolde in particular, Meta envisioned a strong partnership that would bring jobs and community benefits to the region,” the spokesperson reportedly said.

Facebook’s owner however said it could restart the project in the future, saying it would continue to co-operate with the municipality over what to do next.

Power costs

Last October, surging electricity prices in Holland saw smaller data centre operators in the Netherlands, call for financial support from the Dutch government.

The Dutch Data Center Association asked political leaders in Holland to cap electricity prices, provide corporate tax breaks, or introduce subsidies in support of businesses investing in cleaner energy.

Power consumption and managing electricity costs has always been a major issue for data centre operators, but the soaring rise in wholesale gas prices, coupled with a stressed global supply chain and the war in Ukraine, has added to the misery.