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Facebook’s Data Center Plans Rile Residents in the Netherlands

Facebook’s Data Center Plans Rile Residents in the Netherlands


When Susan Schaap, 61, travels from her Dutch hometown of Zeewolde to the nearest metropolis of Leylystad, the 30-minute drive takes her via huge tulip fields, interrupted solely by wind generators and generally sheep. But if Facebook mother or father firm Meta’s plans are accepted, her view would get replaced by the Netherlands’ largest ever knowledge middle.

Meta’s knowledge middle is “too big for a small town like Zeewolde,” says Schaap, who has grow to be certainly one of the mission’s most vocal opponents. “There are 200 data centers in the Netherlands already,” she argues, and the transfer would give large swathes of farmland to only one firm, “which is not fair.”

Like Schaap, different residents of Zeewolde are outraged that Meta has chosen their city for its first gigantic knowledge middle in the Netherlands. They declare the firm shall be allowed to syphon off a big proportion of the nation’s renewable vitality provide to energy porn, conspiracy theories, and likes on Meta’s social platforms.

Their angle displays a wider shift in opposition to Big Tech’s plans to flock to the Netherlands, certainly one of three key hubs for knowledge facilities in Europe alongside the UK and Germany, turning the problem right into a nationwide debate forward of native elections later this yr.

Amsterdam is house to a serious web change, which distributes site visitors from knowledge facilities close by, and it has attracted tech giants searching for higher connectivity and fibere to arrange big, “hyperscale” knowledge facilities to course of their very own knowledge close by.

Microsoft constructed the first hyperscale in the Netherlands in 2015. Since then, two extra have been constructed, and that quantity is anticipated to develop, in keeping with commerce group the Dutch Data Center Association. But Meta’s plan for the Zeewolde website, often called Tractor Field 4, is by far the largest but. It would span 166 hectares, the equal of greater than 1,300 Olympic swimming swimming pools, and would devour 1,380 gigawatt-hours of vitality a yr, a minimum of double what the municipality’s 22,000 residents consume in the similar interval.

The destiny of Tractor Field four has sparked protests and prompted 5,000 individuals to signal a petition. Schaap has arrange a proper group—Sichting DataTruc—to provide locals’ voices extra weight with the council. Different teams have completely different issues, however every insists it’s not against knowledge facilities per se. “We don’t oppose data centers at all,” says Caroline de Roos of the biodiversity group Land von Ons. “What we are opposed to is the use of this superb, really excellent agricultural ground for the data center or any industry. It’s a waste of cropland.” For Schaap, the measurement is the problem. “It is out of proportion,” she says. “Seventy percent of the people that were asked [in a recent survey] are against a hyperscale like this, because it’s too big, it asks too much of our electricity, it asks too much of our water.”

Zeewolde residents’ argument that the knowledge middle will take from the neighborhood with out giving a lot in return is exacerbated by what they find out about Meta’s social media empire. At the prime of the Facebook web page Schaap set as much as oppose the plans is a sketch by cartoonist Ronald Oudman, exhibiting 5 buildings towering over the flat Dutch countryside. Each is emblazoned with a label that claims “PORNO, FAKE NEWS, SILLY CHATS, LIKES AND COMMENTS and CONSPIRACY THEORIES.” “It has nothing to do with medical applications for hospitals or banking applications, it’s not for any purpose but for fun,” says Schaap. “We don’t gain too much from all this. [Meta] speaks about community programs and social return. But that’s just a big joke, because it’s going to be peanuts compared to what we give to them.”


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