Court strikes down Meta's data center plans in Zeewolde
Meta, Facebook's parent company, is not allowed to build a data center in Zeewolde. The company already withdrew from the project last year, but on Wednesday, the Council of State struck down the local municipality's zoning plan. This means the plans cannot be revived, not even with a different company.
Meta announced the plans for the data center at the beginning of 2021. Just outside of Zeewolde, five halls filled with computer servers were to be established. With an area of 166 hectares, this would have become the largest data center in the Netherlands.
This led to significant opposition, but the city council voted in favor of the project in 2021. The council did this by modifying the zoning plan to allow the facility to be built.
Proponents pointed to extra jobs and a boost in tax revenue. However, opponents worried that the data center would be too big for the small village of Zeewolde. They also had concerns about the power consumption and residual heat.
Opponents to the data center won a majority in the last municipal elections in March 2022, eviscerating local political support for the project. Therefore, Meta pulled the plug on the project a year ago.
The municipality's zoning plan has now been reversed. According to the Council of State, it was "not sufficiently established that the zoning plan is feasible." Therefore, the Zeewolde city council should have had "reasonable doubt." Due to the zoning plan, it was still "legally possible" that a data center might be established later on. However, the Council of State ended that possibility on Wednesday.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times