Schiphol's environmental impact report not properly calculated: report

Schiphol airport, 29 Sept 2018
Schiphol airport, 29 Sept 2018Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

An interim environmental impact report for Schiphol airport is incorrect on a number of important points, according to the authors of a second report drawn up at the request of the airport. Both reports are set to be published on Thursday, NOS reports.

The second opinion was drawn up by the Environmental Federation Noord-Holland, the residents' delegation of the airport's Environmental Council, consultancy firm PWC and aviation consultancy firm Moving Dot. Schiphol asked them to do an "independent technical inspection" to guarantee the quality of the calculations in the interim Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 

According to the EIA, Schiphol can grow to handle 540 thousand flight movements per year, 40 thousand more than currently permitted. Air traffic control will not be able to safely handle more flights, the report states.

In the second opinion report, the authors criticize the calculations used for the EIA. The calculations on a number of points were not carried out according to the standards, wrong assumptions were used, and the method provided a too low estimate of noise pollution, according to the criticism. They also state that no account was taken of the inconvenience for the thousands of new homes that were built around Schiphol since 2005.

According to PWC, Schiphol did not clearly explain how it can handle the current 500 flight movements per year without exceeding the so-called 4th runway regulation. This regulation states that the airport can temporarily use a 4th runway for takeoffs and landings during peak times. The intention of the regulation is to limit the use of runways that cause more inconvenience. PWC also noted that old weather information was used in the EIA and that no economic forecasts were used when calculating the effect of 40 thousand extra flights. 

Environmental Federation Noord-Holland said that the EIA does not do what it is supposed to do - it does not show the actual consequences more flights will have on people and the environment. The calculation model chosen estimates the noise levels too low, according to the federation. Climate effects were also insufficiently charted, because the EIA only looked at flight movements up to 900 meters in height. Furthermore, the use of alternative transport options such as the train should have been examined, and the contamination by ultra-fine particles was wrongly disregarded. 

The residents' delegation in the Schiphol Environmental Council mainly criticized the expansion of the 4th runway regulation, which will mean that Schiphol can use four runways at the same time more often. According to the delegation, this is unacceptable to local residents. The residents' delegation also pointed to recent studies that showed that Schiphol can only handle more flights if it first improves the way it handles air traffic. Finally the delegation called it unjustified that the thousands of residents of the new homes built around Schiphol were not taken into account when calculating noise pollution.