Schiedam wants to stop the growth of Rotterdam The Hague Airport

by Tjerk van der Ende

The municipal board in Schiedam is critical of the future growth plans for Rotterdam The Hague Airport. On Tuesday evening, the council decided that the municipality’s response to the airport should be more critical than the draft that the council had written. In the new letter, Schiedam does not accept a small growth, but an absolute stop to growth is desired.

There have been complaints about air traffic over Schiedam Noord for some time now. This summer, the number of complaints reached a new high due to an increase in overloaded planes. Parallel to the flow of complaints about the current situation in the air, concerns about the future also increased. This has to do with the procedure towards a new airport decision.

In the run-up to this decision, Rotterdam The Hague Airport set up a participation process. With the new airport decree, which must ultimately be adopted by the minister, Rotterdam The Hague Airport will also have space from 2025 to use the airport for flight movements. During the process, Rotterdam The Hague Airport sat around the table with interested parties, such as municipalities, the South Holland Nature and Environment Federation and resident representatives.

In the past, the resident representatives in that process have been critical of the outcome. The municipalities of Lansingerland and Rotterdam are also not satisfied with the report that a small increase in the number of flights is possible. Schiedam municipality was initially milder in its response.

The council sharper in criticism than the college

But it still cracked in the Schiedam council. Several citizens made use of the right to speak, including representatives of BTV: Residents Against Aircraft Nuisance. And the council members’ contribution was very much in line with that. Only the coalition parties VVD, Progressive Schiedam and DENK agreed with the content of the letter from the executive board. Debutant councilor Noah van Teijlingen (DENK) spoke of a ‘balanced position in the letter’. “I know people who experience discomfort, but also people who don’t.”

Apart from a unique point of view from Local Independent Schiedam (‘No growth, but also against shrinkage’), the other parties more or less agree with each other. In addition to the opposition parties, this also includes the coalition partners PvdA and D66. Koen van Baekel (D66): “We are in favor of the municipality committing to an absolute stop to growth.”

‘Too accommodating’

“Writing a superficial letter is not an option,” says CDA leader Jaap Pegtel, who believes that the dissatisfaction that is there is ‘not sufficiently reflected’. PvdA councilor Dick van Belle agrees. “Now there is a simple, old-fashioned increase in the number of flights. We are disappointed.” GrønLink council member Yorick Haan: “‘If we are too accommodating, we will end up empty-handed at the end of the process.’

According to councilor Frans Hamerslag (Progressive Schiedam), a more cautious approach is necessary. “As soon as the municipality starts digging in, the minister will implement his own plan.” Hamerslag warns that Schiedam, with too much criticism, could no longer be a discussion partner in the future.

Quieter aircraft

Rotterdam The Hague Airport is calling for further growth to 9,000 extra flights, among other things through the use of ‘quiet aircraft’. But there is a lot of skepticism about how quiet the quieter planes ultimately are and what positive effects this ultimately has. The Commission initially argued for less strong growth: 4,000 extra flights. But even that is not enough for the council.

In the end, a majority of the city council agreed to tighten up even more the contents of the letter. The Schiedam council demands a halt to growth and takes the number of flights in 2019 as a starting point.

It is ultimately up to the minister, in this case Mark Harbers (VVD). He decides what the new airport decision should look like. The future will show to what extent Schiedam’s critical reflection will be part of this.

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