SCHIEDAM – John Witjes received homework from Schiedam on Monday. The residents’ representative on behalf of the city in consultation on the future of Rotterdam Airport must make new agreements if he is to be able to count on support from Schiedam.
In particular, other agreements must be made on opening hours and the number of aircraft that the airport can receive in the coming years.
This became clear on Monday when Witjes presented the Provisional Package Participation Program (VPP) in the Aleidazaal at City Hall to an audience of about fifty people. It describes in black and white what the future of Zestienhoven should look like, according to the participants in the talks: the airport itself, airlines, residents’ representatives and others, a total of twelve parties.
The people from Schiedam, who had agreed to give their opinion on VPP – an estimated forty of the fifty participants – did something clear, Witjes found: they were outraged that VPP is not on the agenda in the Schiedam council. . They can therefore not participate in this. “We must still be able to address the politicians”, their comment sounded rude.
In retrospect, Witjes is pleased with the reactions from the city to VPP, although they can be seen as a disapproval of his work in the contributing group over the past eighteen months. However, the resident representative does not take ‘the large number of reservations’ that were expressed personally. “I have always been convinced that having an impact could bring benefits, and that these benefits also exist in VPP.” The question, of course, is whether these outweigh the disadvantages.
No, the vast majority of those present at the residents ‘council said -‘ I have not actually heard anyone do a passionate case for the airport and at the end of the meeting someone shouted: ‘Who is for and who is against?’ and then all hands in the air were against ‘. According to those present, VPP as it seems – this is a preliminary report – lacks to defend the interests of the Schiedam residents. The critique focuses on the opening hours. When negotiations began, it was formulated that a future with the airport closed half the time and open half the time (from nine to nine) was a realistic bid. VPP states that the current opening hours (from 07:00 to 11:00) will be maintained. “It really needs to change,” Witjes sums up, “otherwise we do not agree.”
The second main critical point expressed on Monday is the number of aircraft allowed to land and take off in Rotterdam. Growth in the number of flights must become impossible, the stakeholders said.
An important factor that determines the number of possible flights is the so-called noise space. There are plans to share that space, e.g. the amount of noise that can be made in total, between one for commercial aviation and another for trauma and police helicopters. However, it is completely unclear how this distribution will proceed. “People are now asking: How can you make a plan if you do not know how this factor will turn out? It is to play with fire!”
According to Witjes, it was thanks to the calm of chairman Hans van der Vlist that the discussion remained more substantive than emotional.
So Witjes must return to the meeting table – at least it was already planned – with the message that things really have to be different on both points mentioned. According to him, it will not be easy to come up with other proposals, otherwise, of course, it would have already happened. It was agreed to hold talks under the system of seeking win-win situations for all parties. In doing so, each party should also feel comfortable, with the result that there was a kind of veto for everyone. Witjes himself has the impression that he has reached the maximum in an earlier phase and must therefore consider whether the final report will be supported if a drastically changed plan is not made. Representatives of the Rotterdam residents had already drawn their conclusions before and withdrew from the hearing. Last night, the Rotterdam Council met – yes – on the subject. There was great consternation over the plans. “This is so far below standard that I say: we should not put our signature under this story,” said CDA councilor René Segers-Hoogendoorn. “The aviation lobby is laughing its ass off.” Words allegedly summarizing input from the twenty Rotterdam speakers at the Council meeting.
The final advice from the participation process on the future of Rotterdam Airport is expected later this year.