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Complaints explode over airport noise

Published on 14/04/2005

14 April 2005

BRUSSELS – A service set up to handle complaints about noisy aircraft at Zaventem airport is being inundated by thousands and thousands of cases.

On Thursday, La Libre Belgique reported that the mediation service for Brussels National Airport, created in 2002, can no longer handle all its cases within its target time of 15 days.

The latest yearly figures for 2004 showed mediators had to investigate 40,973 complaints, a massive rise on the previous year’s 2,281 cases.

The signs are that noise nuisance is getting worse at Belgium’s biggest airport, argued the mediators, who have handled 20,000 files in the first two months of this year alone.

Many commentators blame the spiralling number of disgruntled residents living near Zaventem on new flight paths established under the government’s Anciaux plan, named after former federal transport minister Bert Anciaux.

On Thursday evening, the government was due to hold a special cabinet meeting to debate the problem and decide whether new procedures and rules should be introduced.

Of the total number of complaints, around a third – 13,000 – were made by individuals, usually complaining by email, while the rest were generated by noise barometers installed at Wezembeek-Oppem and Kraainem to record excess volume.

Most complainants were French-speaking and lived mainly in Oostrand or in Brussels in the districts of Diegem, Haren, Neder-Over-Heembeek, Laeken and Noordrand, in the north of Brussels, or Brabant Wallon.

Mediators said residents were even more disturbed by day flights than night flights – which were fewer and dispersed across more of the area – and equally bothered by landings and take-offs.

“Each complaint seems to be significant, whether it concerns the day or the night, and proves that there is a problem,” said francophone mediator Philippe Touwaide.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news