Controversial data center for Facebook’s Meta is one step closer in Zeewolde
A Zeewolde city council majority is in favor of allowing a new, extremely large data center for Facebook parent company Meta. The data center would become the largest in the Netherlands, and is considered controversial because of skepticism about its sustainability and the social benefit it would bring. Eleven of the nineteen councilors voted to change the zoning plan for the intended location, which is the next step towards the construction of the data center.
As proponents of the plan, the local CDA, VVD and Zeewolde Liberaal parties pointed to the opportunities that the large data center can offer Zeewolde and the region. The benefits include extra jobs, increased tax revenues and the use of residual heat, they claim. The left wing faction of PvdA and GroenLinks also was in favor of the proposal after many questions from party members, and an "extremely difficult” decision-making process. The same applies to D66, which said that "a new industry requires guts.”
The fierce opponents of the plan turned out to be ChristenUnie and Leefbaar Zeewolde. They combine for eight seats together, putting them in the minority. They believe the uncertainty about the correct use of residual heat and the large amount of power required by the data park is too great. "We find it irresponsible to saddle a future generation with this energy issue," said Leefbaar Zeewolde. When it became clear that the amendment to the zoning plan would be supported, the group called the result disappointing, "because the vast majority of Zeewolde is against its arrival."
Mayor Gerrit Jan Gorter said it was important to keep the peace after this vote. "It may be clear that this is a disappointment for many opponents. But I ask you to look towards the future together." According to Gorter, permits still have to be granted later in the process to make the data center a reality, and people will still have the opportunity to express their opinion about the issue.
Meta said it is happy with this decision, but also indicated in a written response that there is still a great deal of work to complete. "In the coming period, we will continue to talk with the municipality, the province and other stakeholders."
The fact that the city council of Zeewolde is in favor of changing the zoning plan does not mean that Meta can start construction. The national government’s real estate agency owns part of the required land and will attach conditions about sustainability requirements if the land is sold.. The municipality and the real estate holder will discuss these requirements in the coming weeks, the latter party said earlier.
Reporting by ANP