It was a major setback for Lelystad Airport when Minister Van der Wal rejected the nitrogen calculations last spring. The airport must now provide a permit itself and is looking for farms for this. Schiphol Group confirms this.
2 weeks ago EenVandaag already reported that Schiphol is looking for nitrogen space in North Holland and Utrecht. The airport does not currently have a nitrogen emission permit. The same applies to Lelystad Airport: in order to be able to open as a holiday airport, permission must be obtained. Nitrogen space is now being actively sought for this purpose.
The airport is one of approximately 3,000 so-called PAS reporters; companies that did not need permission under the old nitrogen policy. But now they still have to apply for it. The purchase of livestock by private companies and public services is controversial.
Gelderland and Utrecht recently protested against the acquisition of farmers by, among others, the Rijkswaterstaat for the construction of motorways. The provinces themselves also need the permits for nature restoration, legalization of farmers without permits and housing. Last week, at the insistence of the House of Representatives, the Cabinet announced that it wanted to intervene in the nitrogen market; from now on, the State itself was to have first right of purchase.
Underrated by a factor of 20
Lelystad Airport believed that it could be considered for legalization. But the airport’s calculated nitrogen deposition was found to be underestimated by up to a factor of 20. The airport had calculated that the temperature of the plane’s emissions was too high. As a result, the exhaust gases rise and become diluted. The increase in car traffic to and from the airport was also partially ignored.
Van der Wal therefore rejected the request for legalization. Documents obtained by EenVandaag following an appeal to the Open Government Act (Woo) show that Van der Wal’s decision was not made without a fight: the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management refused.
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), the nitrogen calculation of Lelystad Airport showed deficiencies, but a legalization was wrongly rejected. “IenW’s position is based on the fact that Lelystad will realize exactly what they have indicated they will do in the notification,” officials from Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) write in a memo in January. “And that this ‘only’ has not been calculated properly in the calculation.”
Extensive email exchanges ensued on the interpretation of the legalization terms. According to LNV officials, the Ministry of Infrastructure is the only one that interprets these rules differently. Giving in can have major consequences, they warn.
“If reports from the aviation sector and the agricultural sector are treated differently, there will be a credibility problem. The agricultural parties will probably indicate that what they feared is now becoming reality: Errors from airports are ignored by the government. Errors made by farmers are mercilessly punished. “
But according to IenW, there is no error. Lelystad’s nitrogen calculation was made according to ‘the best available insight’. This is also disputed by LNV. According to officials from that ministry, there were several scientific reports that made it clear that the calculations should have been done differently.
The State Attorney
LNV officials also propose to promise Lelystad Airport ‘support’ to obtain a permit. For example, Schiphol and Lelystad Airport could receive nitrogen space from the government. But that proposal was rejected by the top officials.
IenW officials suggest that the attorney general should settle the discussion. But it doesn’t get that far in the end. The dispute will be the subject of discussion between Van der Wal and her colleague Mark Harbers from Infrastructure. The refusal still stands.
2 year delay
Prime Minister Rutte will also be informed. He understands the decision, according to Whatsapp traffic between officials. “The MP (prime minister, ed.) reacted calmly (“inevitably I understand”).”
The rejection is a major setback for Lelystad Airport. With legalization in the pocket, the opening of the airport to 45,000 holiday flights had come significantly closer. Arranging a permit will take longer. The government therefore decided last summer to postpone a decision on opening the airport in the polder by 2 years.