Belgium must pay noise compensation to residents around Brussels Airport
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Belgium must pay noise compensation to residents around Brussels Airport

© Belga

The Belgian state must pay damages to residents living around Brussels Airport in compensation for noise nuisance, the court of appeal in Brussels has ruled.

The ruling follows from a judgement from March 2017 in which the court determined the government had been in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide a healthy environment during the period from 8 February 2004 to 31 December 2011.

That judgement related to noise pollution caused by aircraft landing on runway 01 – previously known as 02/20 – at the airport, which affected residents of the municipalities Kraainem, Wezembeek-Oppem and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre. Some 300 residents took legal action.

The runway, shorter than usual at under 3,000m, had originally been intended for use only in extreme circumstances, but when complaints from residents of other communes of noisy over-flying increased, and then-minister for mobility Bert Anciaux formulated a dispersal plan in 2004 to alleviate the problem, runway 02/20 was used habitually.

The latest ruling concerns the period immediately following, from 1 January 2012 to 31 October 2018, and is based on measurements of noise which exceed the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The ruling states that the Belgian state must compensate the residents by the payment of damages, for the unreasonable nuisance they have suffered over such a long period. The damages will apply to those residents who live within the area determined by the measurement of aircraft noise levels.

The damages are reported to be in the region of €30,000 for each resident who qualifies.

In a statement published on the website of the activist group Wake Up Kraainem, residents threaten to take further action against the state unless the order for damages is followed. They also call on the state to ensure that the norms for the use of runway 01 for take-off and landing are put into force without delay.

The ruling by the court of appeal cannot itself be appealed.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times