Facebook Data Center designs Rile residents in the Netherlands

Facebook Data Center designs Rile residents in the Netherlands

When Susan Schaap, 61, traveling from her Dutch hometown of Zeewolde to the nearest city of Leylystad, the 30-minute ride takes her through vast tulip fields, interspersed directly with wind turbines and sometimes sheepskin. But if the parent company Facebook Meta's plans are approved, it's the largest data center in the Netherlands.

Meta’s data center is “too big for a small town like Zeewolde,” said Schaap, who became one of the project’s most vocal opponents. "There are already 200 data centers in the Netherlands," she argues, and the move would bring large areas of farmland to just one company, "which is not fair."

Like Schaap, other Zeewolde residents are upset that Meta has chosen their city for their first big data center in the Netherlands. They claim that the company will be allowed to divert a large percentage of the country's renewable energy supply to the power of porn, conspiracy theories, and the likes of Meta's social platforms.

The idea reflects a broader opposition to Big Tech's plans to move to the Netherlands, one of three major data center hubs in Europe along with the UK and Germany, turning the issue into a national debate ahead. on local elections later this year.

Amsterdam is home to a major internet exchange, which circulates traffic from nearby data centers, and has attracted tech giants looking for a better and more fiber-optic connection to big data centers, “hyperscale ”Set up to process their own data nearby.

Microsoft built the first hyperscale in the Netherlands in 2015. Since then, two more have been built, and that number is expected to grow, according to the Dutch Data Center Association trade group. But Meta's plan for the Zeewolde site, called Tractor Field 4, is the biggest one yet. It would span 166 hectares, equivalent to more than 1,300 Olympic-size swimming pools, and consume 1,380 gigawatt-hours of energy a year, at least twice what the city's 22,000 residents consume one time.

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What happened to Tractor Field 4 has provoked protests and prompted 5,000 people to sign a petition. Schaap has set up a formal group - Sichting DataTruc - to give more voice to local people's voices with the council. Different organizations have different concerns, but each wants it not to be against data centers per se. "We are not opposed to data centers," said Caroline de Roos of the biodiversity group Land von Ons. “What we are challenging is the use of this great, excellent agricultural space for any data center or business. It is a wilderness of crops. ” For Schaap, size is the problem. "It's unfair," she says. “Seventy per cent of people asked [in a recent survey] against hyperscale like this, because it's too big, it demands too much of our electricity, it demands too much of our water. ”

Zeewolde residents' argument that giving the data center from the community without giving much back is exacerbated by what they know about Meta's social media empire. At the top of the Schaap Facebook page set up to oppose the plans is a sketch by cartoonist Ronald Oudman, showing five buildings above the Dutch plain. Each one is labeled "PORNO, FAKE NEWS, SILLY Chats, LIKES AND COMMENTS and conspiracy THEORIES." "It has nothing to do with medical applications for hospitals or banking applications, not for any purpose but for sport," said Schaap. "It simply came to our notice then. [Meta] discussing community programming and social return. But that's just a big joke, because it's going to be beans compared to what we give them. "

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