SCHIEDAM – Next Monday will be an important evening for John Witjes. He then, the representative of the Schiedam residents, in the consultation on the future of Rotterdam Airport, presents the provisional package participation route.
This is the black and white basis of one and a half year consultations, sometimes against better knowledge. At the table are representatives from the surrounding municipalities, the airport and Schiphol, the airlines and also the environmental movement and the government, fourteen parties in total. Together, they are trying to reach agreements that will form the basis of a new airport decree.
The conversation was at times so stiff that the representative of BTV (Residents Against Vliegoverlast) stepped out earlier this year, an example followed by the representative of the Rotterdam residents. According to them, it made no sense to sit down with parties, ‘who keep fantasizing about further growth’. They advised Witjes and the resident on behalf of Lansingerland that it would be best for them to leave the meeting.
Witjes did not comment on this, he is put together a little differently, and in the ‘fight’. “I stay at the table as long as possible, at least to talk and listen to arguments. It is better to speak than to shout from the sidelines. ”
In fact, the Interim Participation Package (VPP) is the most important warning of what it could ultimately be in the permit application that the airport submits to the Minister. In return, the latter must lay down all possible rules in the airport decree for flights from ‘Zestienhoven’ in the coming years. “Basically, the airport asks: community, what do you think, residents and politics?”
So it’s about Monday, and that was about it at the consultation table. And it was also about something: The interests in relation to the quality of life near the airport, but also the commercial interests, are great. “But I went into it positively and did my best,” Witjes said. The purpose is to reduce inconvenience to those living near the airport.
The key to a good conversation, according to him, was the search for ‘mutual gains’, win-win situations. “It turned out to work, as a basis for conversation: look at what’s in everyone’s interest.” How do you arrive at the best mix where passengers who want to fly from Rotterdam do so with the least nuisance to the environment?
Witjes remembers how this approach seemed to be in line with the efforts made by the local residents. “Flying is a nuisance. Now there are sixteen hours of flying a day and eight hours of rest. Why not make it twelve hours of rest? Then we share the burden fifty-fifty. An airport open from nine to nine for regular flights “And until about eleven o’clock for delays. That’s what we started the conversations with, and we kept at it for a long time.” Until about February.
But then you also see the opposing interests. “Then Transavia indicated that they had not bought the new ‘quiet’ aircraft for nothing,” Witjes said. Well, “Suggest for six months that opening hours can be discussed, and then come up with a ‘no go’ …” That’s obviously how it works. The participants had agreed that they could all veto proposals, therefore.
“What you see is that the aviation sector is committed to growth. Internationally, there is a growth rate of three percent a year. That is fifteen to twenty percent in five years.” However, this growth has been made possible, among other things, by not including aviation in the agreements on CO2 emission rights and the exemption from tax on petroleum.
Witjes emphasizes that ‘RTHA’ is discussing a new usage scheme for the airport. “Sustainability is really another board to play chess on. Sustainability also touched my soul, but national policy must first take significant steps in that direction. “
So there is now a result from which you can find all sorts of things. Witjes would like to say: “If you ask me: was that what you were hoping for a year and a half ago? Then I say: no. I’m not really happy about this. But you can also say: it leads to improvements. The situation is maybe still far from ideal, but what is the alternative? ” That is the dilemma Witjes faced, and which his audience will also face next Monday, so Schiedam can say no.
Witjes takes the answer back to the conference table to reach a final recommendation. It’s not just there: “There are quite a few open ends.” For that reason alone, Witjes wants to end his work in the participatory process. “I will sit there and put my finger on the sore spot if there is one.” Where it will lead is still unknown. “Maybe the end result is so little that I get out.” And perhaps his commitment to make lasting changes for the better for the people during Zestienhoven’s ascending and descending planes.