Contentious Twente airport plan takes hurdle
The local council of the Dutch city of Enschede has given a conditional go-ahead for the development of a regional airport, despite fierce protests.
The government of the city, which is close to the German border, is hoping that the new airport will give the region an economic boost.Twente is a non-administrative region in the eastern Netherlands. The three largest cities in the region are Enschede, Hengelo and Almelo.
In the debate on Monday, the council demanded curbs on the expected noise pollution. Representatives also established minimum requirements for the economic viabilily of the airport, including a thorough review in 2014 of the future development of the facility. Before the first sod is cut, however, the provincial and national governments have to give their consent. The Overijssel provincial council is debating the plan on Tuesday.
According to the plan, Twente airport will be an extension of the existing decommisioned military airbase. Opponents headed by locally-born celebrity comedian Herman Finkers are doubting the necessity and commercial viability of the new airport. They point out that there is another regional airhub nearby, across the border in Germany. Speaking to national public radio, Mr Finkers said it is ironic that a decision to increase air traffic is taken at the very moment that the climate conference in Copenhagen is underway.
Local conservationists are opposed to the scheme and have presented an alternative plan featuring health farms, sports facilities and parks. Critics say that tourism, which is flourishing in the area, will be harmed by the environmental impact of the airport.
Research by regional paper Tubantia revealed that 50 percent of the population supports the development of Twente airport, while 32 percent are opposed, and the remaining 18 percent are undecided.
Radio Netherlands/ Expatica