Economy

Schiphol wants to further limit nuisance, but no less flying

About a year ago, the airport started a plan together with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) to reduce the nuisance caused by aircraft taking off, overflying and landing.

The help of those most affected by the noise has been requested: local residents and the municipalities in which they live. Since the launch of the plan, about a thousand responses have been received from local residents and administrators. “Sometimes positive, often critical,” says Dick Benschop, Schiphol’s CEO. Forty proposals have been distilled from the responses, divided into six different categories of those who cause nuisance.

‘Part already done’

These categories vary from the classification of day and night flights to which runways can be used when and by which types of aircraft. Sixteen of the forty proposals will be examined for feasibility, Benschop announced together with LVNL CEO Michiel van Dorst.

Schiphol and LVNL themselves came up with 28 potential measures last year, some of which have now been implemented. The fact that these measures are also part of the plan is ‘to be transparent’, says Van Dorst.

Much disapproved

A large part of the forty solutions put forward by local residents and municipalities have been pushed aside. Broadly speaking, this has two reasons. The first is that work is currently underway on a reorganization of Dutch airspace. That’s a job which will take years to complete, with one of the main goals being more direct flight routes over the Netherlands.

Another reason for the rejections is that Schiphol would then be able to process fewer flights because safety would then be compromised. It may then be obvious to fly less, but that is a decision that politicians have to make, says the airport.

The two organizations think they will get the most profit from diverting escape routes. By making more precise turns, a plane that is about to land can fly around a residential area.

That is possible thanks to the ‘fixed bend blasting technique ‘ which ensures that all aircraft turn the same bend, making the noise pollution worst in one place. In other places, the nuisance is less.

Around residential areas

This could be done, for example, above the Noord-Hollandse Uitgeest, by flying over the Uitgeestermeer instead of the village itself. Residents of this place are bothered by planes taking off from the Polderbaan, about 14,600 flights per year. Whether shifting routes is feasible will become clear in 2024 when the research is completed.

How many people will ultimately have less inconvenience after the proposed measures have been implemented remains unclear. “There is no overview of this. Research must first be done”, says LVNL CEO Van Dorst.

Disappointed local residents

“The disappointment is widespread,” says Matt Poelmans, who sits on the Schiphol Environment Council on behalf of local residents. “Relocation appears to be less nuisance. They only want things that do not hurt”, he says of the measures that Schiphol will investigate.

Poelmans is also afraid that if the measures do cause less nuisance, this effect will be offset by the intended increase in flights. “If more quieter planes are allowed to fly, that will add up to more nuisance than noisy planes,” he reasons.

Schiphol is currently allowed to operate a maximum of 500,000 flights per year. The now-caretaker government has previously promised the airport that this ‘flight ceiling’ may be increased by 40,000 flights, provided Schiphol limits the nuisance.

That is not necessary at all, according to Poelmans. He believes that Schiphol should stop facilitating transfer travelers, for example those who are in transit from Asia to the US. “They have no business here. If you remove them, that will quickly save 100,000 flights a year”, he calculates.

The plans of Schiphol and LVNL are now first being examined by an independent party, promises outgoing minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management, VVD).

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