Residents of Zeewolde in the Netherlands have protested against Meta’s plan to choose the small town to build its first giant data center in the Netherlands.
Their stance reflects a larger shift against Big Tech’s plans to establish centers in the Netherlands. This is one of three main data hubs in Europe along with the U.K. and Germany.
Amsterdam is home to a vast Internet exchange that distributes traffic from nearby data centers and has attracted tech giants in search of better connectivity and fiber to build “hyperscale” data centers to process their own data nearby.
The Zeewolde site is by far the largest built by a tech giant on Dutch soil. It would cover 166 hectares. It would have space for more than 1,300 Olympic swimming pools and would use 1,380 gigawatt-hours of energy a year, twice as much as the 22,000 inhabitants of the municipality.
The plan has sparked nationwide outrage and prompted 5,000 people to sign a petition against it, with one of the most common objections being the huge demand for green energy that was originally encouraged in Dutch homes.
A spokesperson for Meta said that Facebook wants to be a “good neighbor” and that it plans to actively work with the local community if the plan is implemented. Zeewolde council announced on its website that Meta is committed to investing in the local economy and making the residual heat generated by the data center free for all.
Despite the lukewarm support of the locals, the city council and local politicians remain optimistic about the project. “We believe the data center will have a positive impact on the region,” alderman Egge Jan de Jonge told the regional newspaper De Stentor in December.
In December, Zeewolde Council voted in favor of granting Meta permission to build a facility on its land, but the Dutch Senate challenged the vote so that the final decision rested with the national government.
Meta welcomed the vote as “a positive outcome,” but a spokesperson noted that the decision to build a facility in Zeewolde was not yet final.