Schiphol shrinkage contract provides opportunities for housing, but many questions remain

A plane lands at Schiphol. Photo: Jounigripen, Flickr

The municipalities around Schiphol hope that the government will soon provide more information about the contract that Schiphol should shrink. Amstelveen, Haarlemmermeer and Aalsmeer have, among other things, housing plans that are in the freezer due to noise standards, among other things. They hope the contraction will lead to changes in legislation.

‘In Aalsmeer, 70 percent of our territory has restrictions from Schiphol. We must always consider everything about construction projects, “says spokeswoman Laura Tas in the municipality. ‘In our municipality, we have a plot in the middle of an existing residential area, but it must not be built on because of Schiphol.’

Tas outlines the problems that many municipalities around Schiphol are struggling with. The government’s announcement that the number of flights will be reduced to 440,000 a year from 2023 has therefore been welcomed in the region. It is a start, because the legislation regarding housing construction at Schiphol has not yet been changed.

‘We are bound by LIB contours. They do not change immediately. It is not even clear whether these will change at all ‘, says Marcel Duyvestijn from Schiphol Municipality in Haarlemmermeer. LIB is the Schiphol Airport Layout Decree, in fact a map showing the areas where restrictions apply to housing. The municipalities must apply to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water for permission for larger residential buildings.

Amstelveen hopes for Schiphol in the sea

Municipalities do not just get that permission. The municipality of Amstelveen was informed of this last month when the Danish Environment and Transport Authority (ILT) approached the Government about housing plans. It was proved that the municipality was wrong, and the zoning plans for the Uilenstede-Kronenburg district, which had been worked on for years, were thrown in the bin.

Amstelveen already dreams of smaller Schiphol. The coalition agreement explicitly states that the municipality will continue to push for a significant reduction in air traffic over the municipality. In addition, the municipality continues to lobby for a move from Schiphol to the North Sea.

The municipality cannot do much more than lobby. ‘Schiphol is government policy’, Councilor Herbert Raat told local channel RTVA. ‘You can only shout loudly, and it has more effect if you do it together,’ says the councilor, who also gets a new portfolio. “The litmus test for this cabinet is that they provide clarity about the role of aviation in the Netherlands.”

Awaiting the effect of the decision on Schiphol

Amsterdam Municipality informs Stadszaken that as long as the flight routes and runways do not change, it makes no sense to think about housing construction in the zones around Schiphol. The province of Noord-Holland believes that the mandatory reduction will have an effect on the legislation. “It is expected that there will be an improvement, but it is not yet clear how it will work in specific locations and whether the contours of the LIB will also be adjusted accordingly,” said spokesman Rose Botman from the province of Noord-Holland.

Therefore, Aalsmeer municipality is also waiting for more elaboration. “It is not yet clear to us what the concrete definition of 440,000 flights means for the contours of the restricted area. So we can not yet say whether it will lead to more housing opportunities for Aalsmeer. ‘

In the meantime, something can be done for Marcel Duyvestijn from Haarlemmermeer. For example, there is a reservation for the other Kaagbaan. ‘If it really needs to be used, you can close Rijsenhout and some other villages. But now the track extension is no longer necessary … ‘

The House of Representatives considered the reservation for the second Kaagbaan three months ago. MP Raoul Boucke from D66 made a proposal to delete the second Kaagbaan forever. It just did not reach then, because it was about safety. With the government’s decision to focus on shrinkage, a new situation arises.

Duyvestijn also points to another effect of the measure. ‘If fewer flights are allowed, will the airlines then choose larger aircraft with more noise?’ The key does not lie with the municipalities or the province. It’s waiting in the cabinet. “For now it’s coffee grounds.”

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