“There needs to be a decision” on Google data centre: Fayot

Google purchased land in Bissen to build a data centre but five years on, there’s still no sign of it Photo: Nader Ghavami

Google purchased land in Bissen to build a data centre but five years on, there’s still no sign of it Photo: Nader Ghavami

With progress on the construction of a Google data centre stalled for years, economy minister Franz Fayot on Wednesday said that the matter cannot be left pending indefinitely amid a shortage of available industrial land.

Google in 2017 purchased land in Bissen to build a data centre, but development plans only received approval by the commune in October 2020. The Mouvement Ecologique environmental organisation contested the decision in court, which finally rejected an appeal in March this year.

“The way is free for Google to tackle the next steps,” said Fayot (LSAP) in parliament, but added: “I cannot tell you today when these next steps will be taken.”

Google in the meantime has made plans for other data centres, including two projects in neighbouring Belgium, in Saint-Ghislain and Farciennes, less than three hours from the grand duchy.

Fayot said he assumes “that there are new strategic considerations” on the side of Google given the lengthy delay and developments that have taken place in the meantime. The company would likely re-evaluate its plans before taking further action, he said.

But there is no indication that the project won’t happen, the minister said of his talks with Google. “I remain optimistic,” Fayot said, adding that the government and the commune of Bissen support the project.

With industry associations bemoaning a lack of available industrial land, the economy minister added that “there needs to be a decision” on the project’s future by Google soon, saying that it could not take another few years for the data centre to move forward.

The Luxembourg state will be first in line to buy the land back from Google should the company wish to sell it, with an agreement in place that it can be bought back at the price paid by the internet giant.

“The ball is in their court,” Fayot said.