The Dutch Data Center Association (DDA) has complained about "drastic" new measures from the Municipality of Amsterdam to restrict data centers.

The new rules, announced in a "preparatory decision" in late 2023, will limit data centers in the Amsterdam municipality (the red area of the map), which is part of the larger Metropole Region.

Amsterdam zoning map
– Dutch Datacenter Association

From now on, "new data centers may only be built on business parks in Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer, both in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA) and in Hollands Kroon," according to the municipality.

The rules follow a long period of discussion between the data center sector and the Amsterdam authorities which imposed a one-year moratorium on new data center building which was announced suddenly in 2019. Construction has been allowed again since 2020.

In 2022, the city authorities passed a law that could impose fines on colocation providers who do not put idle servers into sleep mode. DCD understands the law still stands, though it has not been put into practice yet.

The DDA's response to the new announcement says: "The overwhelming feeling is a lack of understanding for this sudden decision," pointing out that the grid in North Holland is so congested in any case that the development of data centers, along with other industries, is already effectively blocked.

Because of this, the DDA says the decision is just "symbol politics", failing to deal with the congestion, and effectively blaming data centers for it: "The issues with the current grid congestion will not disappear."

The DDA says the decision "contributes to the incorrect and damaging image of data centers, which are based on factual inaccuracies and oversimplified judgments."

Data centers are still allowed in parts of the MRA outside of the Municipality, including Schiphol-Rijk, Haarlemmermeer, Diemen, Almere, Zaanstreek, and Gooi.

For its part, the municipality says it wants the province of North Holland "to remain an attractive location for data centers."

Deputy Esther Rommell said: "We think it is very important that data centers pay attention to, for example, the use of residual heat and water savings. The integration into the landscape also always deserves attention. Data centers are usually enormous gray 'boxes' and determine the image of an area. Much can be achieved by connecting to the environment and choosing the right green-blue integration with trees, shrubs, and water features."

The DDA said data centers are important to digitization and sustainability: "Our future is digital and sustainable. To achieve this, a sustainable data center sector will be essential for the future economy and society."