The Federal Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), has a preliminary draft ready for a framework law to provide a legal basis for all decisions regarding the operation of Brussels Airport.
According to the minister, the text is essential to avoid new legal proceedings over noise pollution, in which the State sometimes has to pay heavy fines.
New legal framework
The draft should clarify the procedures followed when making political decisions. Among other things, the text states that any decision must consider the impact on safety before considering “capacity aspects, socioeconomic impacts, and environmental impacts”.
When that phase is completed, the proposal will be submitted to stakeholders through an advisory committee. This should provide a framework for any changes to the system of preferential runways, wind standards, or flight paths.
From now on, if the law is adopted, the minister will have to justify any decision based on this framework.
Independent body for nuisance
The text also provides for the creation of an “authority for the control and management of airport nuisance relating to Brussels Airport”. This will be a completely independent body “ideally chaired by a magistrate”.
Among other things, that body must monitor compliance with regulations, formulate options for the government, and “evaluate the noise pollution caused by the operation of the airport and contribute to the development of an action plan on this issue”.
The project also provides an information platform accessible to all citizens, with transparency being essential for the serenity of airport operations.
Gilkinet hopes to launch the government debate on this text before transmission to the Chamber by the end of the legislature.
New license needed
In July, Gilkinet caused quite a commotion by announcing that he wanted to put an end to night flights at Brussels Airport. According to the minister, one million Belgians suffer from aircraft noise, and it costs one billion euros in health care.
The Brussels Airport noise pollution file has been stalled for 20 years. As recently as September, the federal aviation ombudsman called for the construction of a complete wall around Brussels Airport and the erection of a pilot hangar for testing aircraft engines.
Brussels Airport, or Zaventem Airport, needs a re-license next year. Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir (N-VA) and the provincial governor of Flemish-Brabant determine the future conditions of the new environmental permit to be delivered by July 2024.