A judge at the tribunal of first instance in Brussels has given the federal government until 3 June to present an environmental impact study on the subject of noise nuisance at and around Brussels Airport in Zaventem, on pain of a penalty of 300,000 euros a month. The order to have the study carried out was already given by the court in July 2017, when the court first upheld the noise limits imposed by Brussels region between 2300 and 0700 on the so-called canal route and ring route – which has aircraft following the routes respectively of the Brussels-Willebroek canal and the Brussels Ring. Also included was the short flight path used for landings at the short runway 01 at Zaventem.
The government was then given to have an impact study carried out on the effects of aircraft noise on areas overflown by flights to and from Brussels Airport. More than a year and a half later, the study has still not emerged, and Brussels region brought the issue back to court.
Unless work has been done in the meantime, four months is not considered a long time to carry out such a study. If it fails to meet the court’s deadline, however, the federal government will have to pay a penalty of 300,000 for every month it is late.
Brussels introduced its strict new noise norms in 2017, and has been challenged twice by the Flemish region on grounds of conflict of interest. By turning aircraft away from the canal and ring routes, Flanders argues, it forces more flights to overfly the communes of the Flemish periphery around Brussels. Brussels benefits greatly from the proximity of the airport to the city, the Flemish government maintains, and cannot be allowed to reap the benefits while refusing to accept any of the costs.