Residents’ associations around Brussels Airport and the environmental organization Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) have announced their firm opposition to a new environmental permit being granted to Brussels Airport, as reported by Belga news agency.
On Monday June 19th, both associations announced that they intend to present a global complaint against the national airport’s “irresponsible plans”. The organizations have stated that they intend to put an end to the environmental pollution and health risks caused by air traffic at Zaventem.
The deadline for Brussels Airport’s new environmental permit application is the 8th of July. According to BBL, the new permit would enable the airport to increase freight traffic by 50% and passenger numbers by 20% by 2032. This growth would also be accompanied by a 40% increase in truck traffic on the roads around the airport complex.
They are jeopardizing the health of local residents for the benefit of foreign shareholders.Jasper Wouters, Bond Beter Leefmilieu
According to figures put forward by BBL, more than 100,000 people are already suffering from severe sleep disturbance as a result of night flights. The dome also claims that “greenhouse gas emissions are rising, and aircraft emit more nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2) than all the companies in the port of Antwerp put together”.
A proposal by BBL and local residents’ groups suggests that employment would be maintained if short-haul flights were replaced by train journeys. In addition, a large proportion of air freight could be transported during the day. “They are jeopardizing the health of local residents for the benefit of foreign shareholders,” said Jasper Wouters of the BBL. “We’re opting for a model for the future in which we guarantee continued employment and give local residents back their quality of life.”
Brussels Airport announces attempt to reduce night flights
The management of Brussels Airport has signaled plans to take actions to help alleviate the situation but no concrete changes have yet been observed. In late May, Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist announced plans to implement stricter rules for planes attempting to take-off or land during the night.
“An aircraft that goes onto the runway after 11 pm and doesn’t have a night slot will have to return to the gate and disembark the passengers,” Arnaud said at a press conference on 24 May. He clarified that the number of night slots available would remain unchanged.
Currently, 16,000 flights per year are allocated night slots for take-off or landing between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am at Brussels Airport. However, if a flight outside this timeframe gets delayed for a valid reason, it is still allowed to arrive or depart during the night interval even if it was not allocated a night slot.
The airport operator now proposes these flights either return to the gate and wait until the next day to depart or pay a fine if they need to unexpectedly land after 11 pm. According to the airport, this will reduce the night flights by about 10% since between 1,500 and 1,600 flights per year use night slots without actually being allocated one.
The airport has come under a lot of scrutiny lately due to nuisance caused to residents and hopes this initiative will send “a strong signal to those living around the airport that we are taking into consideration their concerns”.