About a dozen area residents on Tuesday filed a legal complaint in reaction to a publication in Saturday’s editions of L’Echo and La Libre Belgique newspapers that “restores a few truths” on Brussels National Airport, according to information published on Wednesday in La Libre Belgique and confirmed to Agence Belga by an attorney for the plaintiff, Maitre Vanlangendonck. The complaint against parties unknown for “false advertising, falsehood and use of falsehood and manipulation detrimental to public health” was filed with Investigating Judge Michel Claise. It adds to a penal case under investigation against the airport for a series of potential infringements of unnamed laws and regulations governing its operations, relating mainly to noise nuisance, fine particles and sleeping disorders, and supported by the medical files of some plaintiffs.
In its publicity ad, Brussels National Airport highlights five points. It purports to be ”the biggest private employer in Wallonia and one of the top 5” in that region, claims that noise nuisance affecting local residents has decreased by 50% since the year 2000, and says it is not the only airport located next to a big city since those in Paris, Amsterdam and London are located within 20 km of these mega-cities.
The airport further said that withdrawing its air cargo activities from Bruxelles was “economic and social suicide”, and argued that a law on air routes would end the legal uncertainty surrounding the airport’s activities.
These arguments were rejected one by one by the “Bruxelles Air Libre” residents’ association, which reacted sharply to the publication. “The Brussels Airport document is a pack of fallacious arguments aimed at manipulating public opinion and playing on naivety and sensitive chords,” it said.
The residents’ attorney charged that the text included much manipulation of data and false information in its attempt to re-establish the truth. “These are criminal elements that have made us extend our complaint”; taking criminal action in such a case is rather exceptional, said the attorney, who added that he did not know of any precedent.