The new council in the Noord-Holland municipality of Hollands Kroon wants to prevent more data centers from being developed in the area, despite it being one of only two regions in the Netherlands exempt from a government ban on hyperscale data centers.
“In recent years, many large-scale developments have taken place in the Wieringermeer in a short period of time, leaving insufficient space for participation and social debate about the effects on the living and living environment. That is why we are first taking a step back with large-scale developments such as new data centers and greenhouses,” the new coalition of Independent Hollands Kroon, Senioren Hollands Kroon, GL, PvdA and D66 said this week.
The council is due to discuss the proposal – which would also limit the number of industrial-scale greenhouses being built – this week.
Despite being one of the major data center markets in Europe – the A in the so-called FLAP-D markets of Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Dublin – the Netherlands has had a contentious relationship with the industry in recent years.
Amsterdam imposed its own data center moratorium in 2019, lifted in 2020 with conditions to ensure ‘controlled growth.’ However, the rise of hyperscale developers looking to expand in the Netherlands has continued to face opposition from locals and officials concerned about water and power use.
Microsoft and Google have facilities in the Hollands Kroon area of the Netherlands. Work on a second Microsoft facility is underway but has been delayed by a number of legal challenges; that facility is seemingly exempt from this announcement due to its location in an industrial park. Reports suggest plans for a second Google data center in the area have been dropped.
In February, the Dutch government enacted a nine-month moratorium on permits for hyperscale data centers, defined by the government as facilities with more than 10 hectares and with an electricity demand of 70MW or more.
Specific areas within the provinces of Groningen and North Holland were exempted, as they are at the edge of the Netherlands and have access to renewable energy.
Much of the recent debate around data centers in the country has been centered around a Meta/Facebook being proposed in Zeewolde in the province of Flevoland. Despite originally being granted permission by local officials, opposition to the development grew, leading to a pause in the sale of government land to the social media firm. The company has since announced a pause on a project; it's unclear if the project will be picked up in the future.
Another data center proposed in Appingedam, in the municipality of Eemsdelta, has seemingly also been paused by the government hyperscale moratorium. An unnamed developer was aiming to build two 54,000 sqm facilities offering 200MW across 20 hectares in the Fivelpoort business park. Local reports suggest the company behind the project is one of the ‘big five’ hyperscale firms, with Google heavily suggested.
Alderman Annalies Usmany-Dallinga has told local press the project was already in doubt before the government moratorium, and is now definitively off the table. The developer is now reportedly in discussions with the municipality about whether a smaller data center is feasible.