Dutch court rules that airport must reduce noise pollution

Photo credit: Amin, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

It’s no surprise to read in the first paragraph of this AP article that the Dutch government has long favored commercial airlines’ interests over the well-being of people living near Schiphol Airport, where they are exposed to continuous noisy aircraft. Americans exposed to aircraft noise have complained for years about the government favoring airports and airlines over residents.

But this years-long pattern has now resulted in a historic court decision. At the end of March, a Dutch judge ruled that the airport’s treatment of nearby residents was so poor that it amounted to a violation of Europe’s human rights convention. The court ruled that the Dutch government must do more to “rein in” noise pollution. The lawsuit was filed by a group called The Right to Protection from Aircraft Nuisance.

The lawsuit was the result of the Dutch government deciding not to move forward with plans to limit flights at Schiphol Airport. In response to the court ruling, the Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management acknowledged the need to reduce noise pollution. The Ministry also stated that it will study the judge’s ruling.

Writer Mike Corder informs us that nearly 260,000 people in the Netherlands experience “serious nuisance” from aircraft flying over them. But “serious nuisance” is an understatement. Years of scientific research has shown that aircraft noise can impede one’s mental and physical health.

Schiphol executives responded by saying that they are working to reduce noise pollution. They added that they are considering closing the airport at night and banning the noisiest planes. Schiphol’s response also refers to noise as a nuisance. This is an understatement. Again, noise is a health hazard.

I applaud the organization that filed the lawsuit and congratulate the group on its victory. However, I was unable to learn more about this organization from my Google search, and I hope these advocates are aware of a growing body of research that links aviation noise to adverse health impacts. People around the world have a right to be protected from aircraft noise.

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