The removed foursome is a member of Extinction Rebellion and Schipholwatch. One of them was Yolande Schuur from Vinkeveen, who wanted to make her concerns about aircraft noise, pollution and health problems clear to Schiphol and the ministry. Her protest speech was not appreciated and therefore interrupted by the organization, which had her and her supporters removed from the hall and the hotel.
“The residents get the short end of the stick every time,” Schuur told NH Nieuws outside the Steigenberger Hotel at Schiphol East. “There are all nice talks, but nothing is being done.” According to Schuur, Schiphol ignores agreements and regulations, and the ministry allows it.
Director General of Aviation and Maritime Affairs, Ruth Clabbers, who was one of the speakers, said she understands the activists. “It mainly shows the emotion,” Clabbers told NH News. “I think it’s good to see if we can consult with those involved at a later date.”
“Listen carefully, what exactly is underneath this? Can we remove concerns? Of course it won’t be possible on all counts. Also try to explain how we try to balance the interests and as carefully as possible,” Clabbers said .
Don’t wait for quieter flights KLM
Clabbers also said that Schiphol Airport must quickly become quieter. The cabinet does not want to wait until the KLM airline, by far the biggest user of Amsterdam airport, has completely replaced its fleet with quieter aircraft. A 12 percent contraction is the only goal left for the closet, Clabbers says. “The discussion about whether it is better to look at quieter aircraft than at the sharp reduction in the number of flights that KLM wants is irrelevant. Schiphol must shrink to 440,000 aircraft movements per year, and that decision will not change today,” she continues. The limit is now 500,000 flights per year. Never before has a major European airport had to reduce the number of flights.
The shrinking of Schiphol creates more divisions between supporters and opponents in the already polarized discussion about aviation. Both local residents and employees from the aviation sector participated in the meeting. KLM strongly opposes the contraction. Society is afraid that the decline will lead to large job losses and be bad for the economy.
Local resident Michel Willemse from Amstelveen has confidence in the shrinking decision. He believes that the combination of shrinkage and modern, quieter aircraft can reduce the nuisance. Wil Spaanderman, member of the Schiphol Environment Council (ORS), lives under the approach route to Polderbaan. He calls the decision brave, but argues for more cuts: not from 500,000 to 440,000 flights per year, but to 350,000 flight movements from November next year.
‘Lack of concrete plans’
Mirella Visser, from the residents’ organization PUSH Uithoorn, also wants to flee less, but is particularly annoyed by the lack of concrete plans to implement the decision. “In what way is this decline spread across the region?” she asks. Visser fears that not all local residents will benefit from fewer flights if some runways – such as Aalsmeerbaan – are used more than others.
Private jet flights
One of the visitors wants to know from the ministry whether private jet flights will in future be included in the maximum number of flights per year. That is not yet the case. Business jets, police helicopters, trauma helicopters and the Coast Guard together account for tens of thousands of extra flights. The ministry states that the decision has not yet been worked out in detail, and that an air tax is also being considered for private jet flights, e.g.
Sijas Akkerman, director of the North-Holland Nature and Environmental Federation, wants business jet flights to be no exception from now on. He emphasizes that it must not be at the expense of necessary flights such as for example from the police and trauma helicopters. “It could mean that fun flights can’t take off. It has to be less because of climate, noise and ultrafine particles anyway.”
This article was created in collaboration with our media partner NH News.