Zaventem noise pollution laws 'unconstitutional'

22nd March 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 March 2006, BRUSSELS — The Brussels Appeals Court ruled on Tuesday that noise pollution regulations imposed on Zaventem Airport are unconstitutional.

22 March 2006

BRUSSELS — The Brussels Appeals Court ruled on Tuesday that noise pollution regulations imposed on Zaventem Airport are unconstitutional.

The court gave the federal government 30 days to draw up new regulations giving an equal measure of noise pollution for residents around the Brussels international airport.

If the government fails to meet the deadline, fines of EUR 25,000 per day can be imposed.

The Flemish government was also ordered to instruct airport operator BIAC to draw up a new environmental impact report. Fines may be imposed if the report is not drawn up within 20 days.

Federal Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt said he is perplexed by the latest court ruling: "First and foremost we need to analyse the situation because I have always respected the court rulings".

Landuyt said he will also respect this court ruling, but admitted it will be much more difficult this time, news agency Belga reported.

The Socialist SP.A minister said the Brussels court of appeal had earlier ordered him to reduce the spread of flights around Zaventem, but has now requested a more equal spread.

He said a more equal spread of noise pollution is not feasible because wind directions dictate which runways can be used.

The Brussels court of appeal said regulations used by the Brussels regional government to protect capital city residents from noise pollution and thwart an equal spread of the problem are federally disloyal.

It said the Brussels noise pollution regulations violate the principle of equality and are therefore unconstitutional.

The court ruled in favour of complaints lodged by residents living in Flanders outside the Brussels capital region (and thus beyond the region's protective noise pollution regulations) and the workgroup Daedalus.

The ruling ended the political ceasefire that had descended on the noise pollution dispute in recent months after the federal, Brussels and Flemish governments had retreated to their respective corners in the drawn-out dispute. 

Meanwhile, airlines raised alarm on Tuesday about the fines the Brussels region is issuing for ongoing breaches of its strict noise pollution regulations. Tour operator Thomas Cook said airlines are demanding a moratorium on the fines.

The airlines have never paid the fines, but claim the Brussels government is now threatening legal action. The problem has reportedly been brought to the attention of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Flemish Premier Yves Leterme.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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