AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The village of Zeewolde, 50km east of Amsterdam, looks set on Thursday evening to approve plans by Meta to build the largest data centre in the Netherlands from which Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp can serve users all over Europe.

The facility, which will require 1.38GWh of electricity and cover 166 hectares (410 acres) of farmland, is expected to run on green energy and provide the local economy a boost but has been criticised by some politicians and environmental campaigners, not least for the energy it will use.

While the country’s previous government lobbied to attract data centres, including major facilities by Google and Microsoft that also run on renewable energy, parties in the process of forming the next government have taken a different view.

“Hyperscale data centres place an unreasonably large demand on the available renewable energy in relationship to their societal or economic value,” they wrote in their new governing pact published ahead of the Zeewolde council vote.

“We will be sharpening the national coordination and admissions criteria for licensing.”

Meta spokeswoman Melanie Roe said initial construction costs would be around 700 million euros ($795 million) and no date has been set yet for completion pending necessary approvals.

The 800,000-strong population of Amsterdam are heavy users of the data services provided by Meta, however, regional authorities have issued a ban on the construction of further data centres near the city itself to avoid further strain on its electricity grid.

The Dutch Data Centre Association estimates that currently data centres make up about 3% of all Dutch electricity usage, but that may rise to 10% by 2030.

($1 = 0.8812 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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