City council says no: Facebook data center line takes post-election spin

Artist’s impression of the site. Illustration: Gemeente Zeewolde

The dispute over a local council’s green light for a massive data center for Facebook parent Meta has taken a new turn, now that a party opposed to the project has won local elections.

Leefbaar Zeewolde won 10 of the council’s 19 seats – a rare occurrence in the highly fragmented Dutch political landscape.

The party opposes the decision to locate the Meta data center on farmland and leader Tom Zonneveld says he will do everything he can to have this reversed. “The most important step, the modification of the zoning plan, has already been taken and it will be difficult to go back,” Zonneveld told the NOS channel. “There are options, but they are tricky.”

The Zeewolde council voted to modify the zoning plan at the end of December, paving the way for the construction of the data center. This vote also caused a furious row, with GroenLinks advisers backing the Meta plan.

However, part of the land belongs to the national government which has yet to give its approval for the project, and the senators have also called on the state to say no.

The Senate is due to vote on the issue next week. “What we can do is let senators know that Zeewolders now think differently about the data center,” Zonneveld said.

“The province must grant a license, so must the water board, parliament must have a say, and the state real estate agency must agree to sell the land,” he said. “There are a number of hurdles Meta is facing and I want to delay each one.”

The data center, or hyperscale, is controversial for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is built on agricultural land. There are also concerns about the massive amount of energy needed to power the center – the equivalent of a small town of 460,000 people.

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