Flanders demands daily penalty payments over Brussels Airport flight paths

The Flemish government will start new proceedings before the Court of Appeal to demand penalty payments of 100,000 euros per day if the federal government does not adjust the flight routes over the Flemish periphery again.

Flemish Periphery Minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) announced this in a press release. Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) called Weyts’ demarche an electoral game.

“Brussels is a kind of no-fly zone”

The Flemish government previously went to court against new navigator procedures introduced in October, claiming they were too concentrated over the Flemish peripheries around Brussels.

In February, the Brussels court of first instance ruled in favor of Flanders. It ruled that the federal government had to work out new flight routes for Zaventem Airport, or Brussels Airport, within six months.

The judge also deemed it “unnecessary for the time being to link a penalty to the measure,” noting that “there is currently no reason to assume that the defendant will not comply with the measure imposed.”

But so far, federal Mobility Minister Gilkinet has not moved to do so. “It cannot be that the federal government intervenes to make Brussels a kind of no-fly zone while the noise pollution is for Flanders,” Weyts says. “If the federal government is not amenable to reasonableness and arguments, then heavy penalty payments should just force the breakthrough,” he says.

“Burden must be shared fairly”

According to Weyts, it is certainly not inconceivable that the court will accede to the demand for penalty payments of 100,000 euros per day if the federal government does not adjust the flight routes. He points out that the federal government already must pay penalty payments of 50,000 euros per week to some municipalities in the northern periphery as a result of another verdict.

“We demand 100,000 euros a day in the name of the affected inhabitants of Vilvoorde, Machelen, Wemmel, Grimbergen, Meise, and the other Flemish municipalities that are disproportionately burdened,” Minister Weyts says. “All regions and inhabitants of this country enjoy the joys of the airport, so the burden should also be shared fairly.”

The Minister wants to use the proceeds of the penalty payments to make noise protection investments in the affected municipalities of the Flemish periphery.

Electoral game

In a reaction, Gilkinet labels Weyts proceedings as an electoral game. “We are on the side of all residents who are daily plagued by the nuisance”, says Gilkinet’s spokesperson. He emphasized the measures Minister Gilkinet has put on the table to reduce nuisances for all affected residents, “including quiet nights, which N-VA opposes.”

Other measures include introducing variable charges and stricter environmental and noise standards in the management contract with air traffic controller Skeyes. “Finally, a draft flight law is on the government table, which defines the method for determining flight routes, considering all interests, particularly those of residents. This also provides for a federal authority for noise control and management,” he states.

However, once the flight law is approved by the government, it will still have to go to parliament, and an agreement will also have to be found on where exactly the planes will fly, an almost impossible solution given all the clashing interests in the file.

Flemish criticism regarding Weyts, too

From within the Flemish government itself, Gwendolyn Rutten (Open VLD) also accuses her colleague Weyts of profiling. “If there hasn’t been community misery for years, then I’ll just make it myself,” Ben Weyts must have thought when he ordered compulsory payments to be claimed from one government to another,” the Liberal minister lamented on X. “Stunting with taxpayers’ money doesn’t help us any further.”

“After the license-Demir caused the airport problems, now the penalty payments-Weyts. Twice individual profiling on the hoof of Flemish Brabant,” Rutten added.

At the end of March, Flanders delivered a new environmental permit of indefinite duration for Brussels Airport in Zaventem. However, for some Brussels municipalities and the Brussels and Walloon Regions, the measures imposed in it are insufficient. Apart from Brussels Environment Minister Alain Maron (Ecolo), a dozen Brussels municipalities have also announced that they will appeal against the new permit.


Ready to join the conversation?

You must be an active subscriber to leave a comment.

Subscribe Today

You Might Also Like