It seems like an old problem for a long time, but is now becoming relevant again: the inconvenience that residents around Rotterdam The Hague Airport experience from planes flying over. The airport is working towards a new airport decision, which must ultimately be approved by the Minister.
To get there, a longer process has been initiated, where residents will also have the opportunity to participate in discussions about the airport’s future. But new plans for the airport are, to say the least, sensitive to the residents, as it turned out on Monday night during the residents’ evening on this subject at the Municipal Office in Schiedam. Distrust of the airport only seemed to have grown.
The meeting was opened by John Witjes, resident representative in the consultations with the airport. In order to reach an airport decision, step one is to establish a ‘preliminary package participation process’. The first version of this package was released last month and is now being presented to followers in the surrounding cities.
‘You are being fooled’
“You will be cheated wherever you are,” said one of the Schiedam residents present during the meeting Monday night. The approximately 47 people present in the room mainly focus on John Witjes, as a spokesman for the residents towards the airport. Those present seem to unequivocally agree that Witjes did not take the following out of the jug during the initial negotiations. Residents primarily see an airport that wants to grow further, while they would rather get rid of the low-flying planes altogether.
Flight time adjustments
The preliminary adjustments appear to be primarily in flight times. Yet what Witjes originally wanted was not achieved there. He agreed to fly between kl. 9 and 21 to ensure sleep for most residents, but the planes in the preliminary package can fly between kl. “I do not want to be blown away,” says the tenor at the municipal office.
There is great fear among the residents. For example, there are many fears about growth plans that are not explicitly mentioned in the package, but for which there seems to be room, such as the separation of the use space for social traffic (for example, police and trauma helicopters) and the other user space. “Splitting entails a risk that, all in all, there will be more space for more commercial traffic, because no more airfields will be taken up by police and ambulance helicopters. They now have their own flight frames. ”
But there is more fear. For example, night flights are still possible (except between 02:00 and 06:00), and the plan says that the airport may even be allowed to grow – provided it is made ‘green’ and does not bother.
The discussion and more or less attacks on John Witjes are mainly used by the action group BTV, Residents Against Aircraft Nuisance. The action group also had a seat at the table in determining the preliminary package of the participation process, but felt that it was being pressured too much and was leaving. They also want whites to leave the consultations. “To prevent the green ticks from being put in place when it comes to participation without actually achieving anything.”
The last word on the future of the airport has not yet been said. Witjes will take last Monday’s feedback to the consultations with Rotterdam The Hague Airport. A new package will not be released until after the summer. At the same time, Rotterdam City Council is seen at an angle, where a possible closure of the airport is slowly but surely on the political agenda.
Despite the fact that Rotterdam municipality owns the land on which the airport is located, the closure is not easy to achieve. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management always has the ultimate responsibility for airport policy.
The new airport decision will probably come in the right procedure at the end of this year, which also requires approval from e.g. all municipal councils. The new permit, which follows from the airport decree, will not enter into force until 2025 or 2026. Only then will any changes in, for example, flight times become noticeable to the local residents.