Brussels Airport Mediator makes five proposals for reducing noise around the airport

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The Mediation Service for the national airport recently presented to Minister of Mobility François Bellot five concrete proposals for a “sustainable airport“, making a balance between environment and the economy and allowing for an improvement of the current situation.

During a press conference held at the … Sea Port of Brussels, the Belgian Federal Mediation Service for Brussels Airport today presented its annual report for the year 2018.

In 2018, the Mediation Service handled 94,374 cases from 1,552 applicants. This represents a 28% decrease in the volume of complaints compared to 2017, and the first significant decrease observed since 2012.  However, the number of complainants has increased slightly from 1,507 in 2017 to 1,552 in 2018.

According to Philippe Touwaide, the Director of the Mediation Service, the decrease in the annual volume of requests is likely explained by the communication policy on all the networks made available to him. Prior information on runway works, on the unavailability of runways, on specific weather conditions, when announced before the occurrence of events, can avoid excessive reactions by the residents.

In addition to the handling of complaints, the Mediation Service for the airport also contributed to the organisation of 39 meetings with municipal authorities and/or citizens: 127 in Flemish Brabant, 19 in Brussels and 3 in Walloon Brabant. Two thousand citizens took part in such meetings.

The Federal Government’s Mediation Service for Brussels Airport notes that the following overflight zones “clearly pose a real problem in terms of breaches of the right to a better environment“: the northern periphery (Diegem, Machelen, Haren, Strombeek-Bever, Grimbergen, Meise , Wemmel); the eastern periphery (St-Peter-Woluwe, Stockel, Kraainem, Wezembeek-Oppem, Sterrebeek, Tervuren, Vossem, Duisburg, Huldenberg), the “east side” (Kortenberg, Steenokkerzeel, Erps-Kwerps, Herent, Leuven, Rotselaar, Bertem, Winksele, Haacht, Lubbeek, Wilsele, Tildonk), eight communes in the Brussels Region; and Walloon Brabant (Waterloo, Braine-l’Alleud, La Hulpe, Lasne).

The proposals submitted by the mediators to Minister François Bellot range from the reduction in the level of noise allowed for aircraft day and night (as other airports have already done) to concrete measures to limit the evolution of large aircraft at night between 20:00 and 08:00, through the reactivation of the FANVA financial fund for insulation and expropriation managed by Brussels Airport Company and deactivated since 2003. The Federal Mediation Service of the airport also proposes to complete the construction of a noise barrier and a test hall for reactors (promised since 1984), and to implement all court decisions not subject to appeal, and all laws and regulations.

The main complaints from local residents are with regard to the application of the European Environmental Night (no planes between 22:00 and 07:00). The residents also want a clarification on wind standards regulating runway usage. According to Philippe Touwaide, no less than seven runway changes took place during Easter Monday alone.

Local residents are also calling for a ban of noisy Boeings 747s and better management of large aircraft traffic and procedures. They want a ceiling on daytime traffic, as well as an objective and detailed measurement of the noise in the communes overflown, quarter by quarter (with the peaks of noise, the noise levels, the frequency of overflights and number of overflights, day and night).

In addition, the Mediation Service pointed out that climate change has consequences for the use of runways at the airport. The frequency of easterly winds has thus significantly increased, which influences the use of the runways.

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