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Jul 02, 2022 at 05:30Update: 3 months ago
There will definitely be no Facebook data center in Zeewolde, it was announced on Thursday. The arrival was discussed for more than half a year. A timeline of the developments.
By Elisa Heissen
Facebook parent company Meta appears to want to build a large data center of 166 hectares in Zeewolde. The mega complex will have servers for services such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The plans have been in the works for years, but it will only become clear in November that Facebook is the actual company behind the data center. Earlier, the internet giant hid behind a false name.
The Zeewolde city council gives the green light for the construction of the data center. A narrow majority of councilors approves the zoning plan, despite fierce criticism from local residents and from national politics.
The opponents fear that the size of the data center does not suit a village like Zeewolde. The high power consumption is also a tricky point for critics, as is the question of whether the residual heat can be used properly. Proponents point to extra jobs and more tax revenues.
However, with the approval of the zoning plan, the arrival of the data center is not yet complete. Facebook has yet to get the proper permits and buy some of the necessary land. 88 hectares of this is in the hands of the Central Government Real Estate Agency (RVB). That has drawn up a list of sustainability requirements, for which Facebook must adjust the plans.
The cabinet is putting a nine-month stop to the construction of new data centers. It has been agreed in the coalition agreement that stricter rules will be introduced. No new permits will be issued until the new policy is in place. The restriction does not apply to the data center in Zeewolde, because those plans are already well advanced.
The cabinet wants to ban the construction of large data centers in most places in the future. Large companies will then only be allowed to set up their data halls in places where wind energy comes ashore.
Local parties that opposed the arrival of the data center in December have won a major victory in the municipal elections.
Meta also announces that the plans for the data center are being postponed. "Given the current circumstances, we have decided to pause our developments in Zeewolde," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with the municipality in determining our next steps."
The Council of Ministers agrees to strict regulation of large data centers. This means that municipalities are no longer allowed to allow data centers in zoning and environmental plans. This does not yet have direct consequences for the data center in Zeewolde.
However, the government has announced that it does not want to sell the land on which the data center would be located to the municipality of Zeewolde. The municipality does not meet the conditions set, says Minister Hugo de Jonge (Spatial Planning).
At the end of the month, Meta will then put a definitive line through the plans for the data center in Zeewolde. "When we consider a location for a data center, our priority is a good match with the environment. In the end we decided that building a data center in Zeewolde is not the right investment," said the American company.