Microsoft can build second data center at Middenmeer after city council agreement

The city council of Hollands Kroon agrees to the arrival of a second Microsoft data center at Middenmeer. By agreeing to a change in the zoning plan for an area on the west side of the A7, the company can build a new data center there.

During the council meeting, the change of the zoning plan from an agricultural area to an industrial area could count on 17 votes in favor and 11 votes against. Due to the change in the zoning plan, Microsoft has the space to place a new data center in the area. The other data center is on the other side of the A7 highway. Of the 50 hectares in the zoning plan, approximately 22 hectares will be built on.

Microsoft already received a permit for the expansion of that data center in January, but the city council still had to agree to a zoning plan that would turn the area on the west side of the A7 into an industrial area. The tech giant has already started construction in the area and the construction of the second data center should be completed within two years.

The arrival of Microsoft’s second data center has been widely criticized. Not everyone in the council agrees with the expansion in the area. The province of North Holland has also recently turned against plans for expansion. She wonders whether the province does not represent the competent authority over the plans and Microsoft therefore illegally obtained a permit from the municipality of Hollands Kroon.

The parties that voted against were mainly concerned about the space that the data center would take up, because the arrival of a new data center would create a large hyperscale on both sides of the A7. In addition, they said that there is a lot of uncertainty about how sustainable the new data center will be, because, in their view, this is not sufficiently clear in an earlier environmental vision for the area. Previous promises to use residual heat from the data center for greenhouse horticulture in the area have not yet come to fruition. This new area would also be unsuitable for reusing residual heat, said Lilian Peters of GroenLinks.

A large majority, led by the parties CDA, VVD and Senioren Hollands Kroon, voted in favour. They emphasized that the zoning change is in line with plans for the area that have been in the works since 2016, and they expect this expansion to contribute to employment in the area. The municipality of Hollands Kroon has plans to expand the number of two large data centers of Google and Microsoft that already exist by another five, although it is questionable whether they will come after it was announced in April that Google decided to plan for the construction of new data centers in Middenmeer, mainly because of the public discussion about data centers in the area.