Brussels Airport: Environmental licence clash risks grounding flights

Brussels Airport: Environmental licence clash risks grounding flights
Credit: Belga

Brussels Airport must apply for a new environmental permit this summer. Without it, operations at Belgium’s largest airport risk grinding to a halt. But the renewal of this permit is currently blocked with the Flemish government unable to reach an agreement on acceptable nitrogen emissions.

Zuhal Demir, Flemish Minister for the Environment, and the airport itself are now sounding the alarm as summer rapidly approaches. Yet Flemish coalition partners Open VLD and CD&V accuse the minister of playing political games, Het Nieuwsblad reports.

The current environmental permit, first agreed in 2004, is set to expire in July 2024. By this summer, Zaventem must apply for a new permit. But before it can do so, Brussels Airport must await further clarification on how much nitrogen it is allowed to emit.

“Like any industry, we need a regulatory framework for nitrogen. That is why it is important that a legally-secure decree be voted on in the short term at the Flemish level,” an airport spokesperson said.

Related News

The first nitrogen agreement drafted in February 2022 has still not been voted on in the Flemish parliament. The CD&V wants to withdraw some of the measures included in this agreement, to the annoyance of its coalition partner N-VA.

N-VA minister Demir, along with Brussels Airport, is putting pressure on the parliament to secure a quick deal over fears of an interruption to air traffic. CD&V and Open VLD have yet to budge, rejecting the calls for a quick agreement as a political strategy. They deny that rejecting the current agreement will prevent Zaventem from renewing its permit in time.

Other than heightened levels of nitrogen pollution, locals living near the major airport have long complained of noise pollution. In November, the Federal Government announced stricter standards to combat noise pollution, which aims to force airlines to modernise their fleet more quickly.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.