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Facebook completely withdraws plan for controversial data center

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Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, officially stopped its plans for a data center in Zeewolde. Due to a great deal of opposition to the data center’s arrival, the government recently decided not to make the land available. The company previously suspended the plans for the data center. 

“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,” the American company said. “We are now finalizing our development plans and are working closely with the municipality and province to end this project.”

Tom Zonneveld, party chairman of Leefbaar Zeewolde, said he was pleasantly surprised by the news. “We did not expect Meta to come up with the decision so quickly, but rather that they would put the ball in the hands of the national government.” The party has been fighting the arrival of the data center for a long time. In the municipal election in March, the party doubled its number of seats in the city council from five to ten.

The Zeewolde city council still supported the data center at the end of last year. But that support melted away due to the opponents’ victory in the elections. 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. Proponents pointed to extra jobs and more tax revenue. 

Zeewolde previously agreed to change the zoning plan for the data center, but that did not mean Meta could start construction immediately. The company also needed permits from the municipality and province. The land on which the data center would be built is also owned by the state, which set sustainability requirements for its use before any sale was made. 

Minister Hugo de Jonge (Spatial Planning) called it a “wise decision” for Meta not to go through with the plans for Zeewolde. De Jonge and the municipality of Zeewolde were still talking about what would happen to the land. De Jonge did not intend to sell the state’s part of the land because Meta did not meet the sustainability conditions yet.

Zeewolde said it was surprised by Meta’s decision. “It is still unclear in terms of content what exactly the withdrawal of Meta means for the total development of Trekkersveld 4. We are now going to find out how we can carefully close the data center project in close collaboration with Meta,” the office of the mayor and aldermen explained. 

A spokeswoman for the company did not want to say whether Meta was looking for another location for its data center. The company also would not answer questions about the costs involved in scrapping its Zeewolde plans. 

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