Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has an extensive international route network that connects the Netherlands to the world.
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Being so well-connected to the rest of the world contributes significantly to the Netherlands’ prosperity.
However, the airport is located in a highly urbanised area in one of the busiest parts of the country, and has negative effects for those who live in the vicinity. Local residents are exposed to aircraft noise and are also concerned about the impact of the airport on their health, the natural environment and the climate more generally.
The government seeks to strike a balance between the importance of having a large international airport – which is also good for the business community – and of a better, healthier living environment. On 24 June the cabinet approved the proposal of the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Mark Harbers, on establishing a new balance.
Considering the public interests involved, the government has decided to prioritise tackling noise nuisance, while ensuring that the airport can continue to fulfil its economic role.
This means Amsterdam Schiphol Airport may no longer exceed the established noise nuisance limits, effectively limiting flight movements to a maximum of 440,000 a year. It is expected that this maximum could go into effect in November of next year.
This number of flight movements will allow the airport to maintain its international route network. The possible opening of Lelystad Airport for leisure travel could also contribute to the destinations served by Schiphol, provided that a nature permit is granted to Lelystad airport and the issue of the low approach routes is resolved.
All this will take some time, so the government will not make a decision on Lelystad Airport before the summer of 2024.
‘I want to offer certainty, including about the future, to the aviation sector and those who live in the vicinity of the airport,’ Mr Harbers says.
‘This decision serves as a foundation for establishing a new balance. It’s difficult news for the aviation sector, which is still recovering from the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very much aware of this. We will now be fleshing out the details of our decision on the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, together with local residents and aviation stakeholders.’ ■