Facebook’s data center plans to provide services to Rile residents in the Netherlands

When Susan Sharp, 61 years old, from her Dutch hometown of Zeewold to the nearest city of Lelystad, a 30-minute drive will take her through a vast tulip field that can only be interrupted by wind turbines and sometimes sheep. But if Facebook’s parent company Meta’s plan is approved, her views will be replaced by the largest data center in the history of the Netherlands.

Meta’s data center is “too big for a small town like Zeewolde,” says Schaap, who has become one of the strongest opponents of the project. “There are already 200 data centers in the Netherlands,” she argues, and this will allow a company to own large tracts of farmland. “It’s not fair.”

Like Schaap, other residents of Zeewolde were angry that Meta chose their town as its first huge data center in the Netherlands. They claim that the company will be allowed to draw a large portion of the country’s renewable energy supply to support pornography, conspiracy theories and likes on the Meta social platform.

Their attitude reflects a broader shift against plans for large tech companies to flock to the Netherlands, which is one of the main hubs of three data centers in Europe, tied with the United Kingdom and Germany, to address this issue before local elections later this year. It became a national debate.

Amsterdam is home to the main Internet exchange center, which distributes traffic from nearby data centers. It attracts tech giants seeking better connectivity and fiber optics to build huge “hyperscale” data centers to process their own data nearby. .

Microsoft built the first hyperscale in the Netherlands 2015According to the trade organization, two more have been built since then, and this number is expected to increase. Dutch Data Center Association. But Meta’s plan for the Zeewolde site is called Tractor field 4, Is by far the largest.It will cover an area of ​​166 hectares, equivalent to more than 1,300 Olympic swimming pools, and will consume 1,380 GWh of energy annually, which is at least twice that of the city’s 22,000 residents Consume In the same period.

The fate of Tractor Field 4 sparked protests and prompted 5,000 people to sign the petition. Schaap established a formal organization-Sichting DataTruc-to give more weight to the local people’s voice in the parliament. Different groups have different concerns, but each group insists that it is not against the data center itself. “We are not against data centers at all,” said Caroline de Roos of Land von Ons, a biodiversity organization. “What we are opposed to is the use of this excellent, very good agricultural land for data centers or any industry. Waste of farmland.” For Schaap, size is the issue. “It’s not proportional,” she said. “70% of those asked [in a recent survey] It is opposed to super-large scales like this because it is too big, it requires too much of our electricity and too much of our water. “

The argument of the residents of Zeewolde is that the data center will be taken from the community without giving much reward, and their knowledge of the Meta social media empire has exacerbated their perceptions. At the top of the Facebook page set up by Schaap to oppose the plan is a sketch by cartoonist Ronald Oudman, showing five buildings towering over the flat countryside of the Netherlands. Each is printed with a label that says “pornography, fake news, stupid chats, likes and comments, and conspiracy theories.” “It has nothing to do with hospital medical applications or banking applications. It is not for any purpose, but for Fun,” Schaap said. “We didn’t get much from all this. [Meta] Talk about community plans and social rewards. But this is just a big joke, because compared to what we gave them, it’s a piece of cake. “

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