The Mons Court of Appeal has ordered Belgium’s Wallonia region, as well as the operator of Charleroi airport, to pay compensation to 54 residents living near the airport, following a legal action taken by the locals in relation to noise pollution, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
In total 42 of the 54 complainants have been awarded a collective sum of 1,044,238.40. The courts have yet to rule on the other complainants, who will have their case represented at a hearing in December.
“I am very happy for the local residents who have been fighting for 21 years to have their rights recognised. The Walloon Region did not consider them as they should. Economic development was favoured to the detriment of local residents. This is fair compensation,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Alain Leburn, told RTBF.
The case dates back to 2001 when Ryanair moved its base of operations in Belgium to Charleroi airport. This led to a string of complaints about noise pollution, as Ryanair’s low-cost flights were frequent and often used cheap flying slots at early hours. Finally getting fed-up, local residents took the matter to the courts, which remained in limbo for many years.
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“The case went before the Constitutional Court. The judgement took many years. In the meantime, very large sums have been invested and local residents have moved, died, or lost interest in the case. In 2019, we appealed the judgement given at first instance,” the lawyer said.
This time around, the Mons Court of Appeal has agreed with the complaints of the plaintiff. The Walloon Region has been proven to have failed to carry out environmental impact studies before further development, as well as not setting up systems of support, or penalties for exceeding noise levels.
The Walloon region may attempt to challenge the decision at the Belgian Court of Cassation, but they have yet to decide if they will take further action.