Dutch government appealing against court ruling blocking Schiphol contraction
The government will appeal against a court ruling banning it from reducing the number of flight movements at Schiphol Airport from 500,000 to 460,000 in the upcoming season, Minister Mark Harbers of Infrastructure and Water Management said in a letter to parliament.
“The ruling is not in the interest of the people living near Schiphol. It is not yet possible to restore their legal position. For that reason I have decided to appeal against the judgment of the preliminary relief judge,” Harbers wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer about the case.
Last week, the court ruled that the government can’t reduce the number of flights in the upcoming season, from November 2023 to October 2024, because the State had not followed the proper European Union procedure for the reduction.
The government wants to reduce the number of flight movements at Schiphol to lower the noise pollution around the airport. KLM and other airlines filed the lawsuit to block this reduction, arguing that they weren’t consulted as per the EU rules. The court ruled in the airlines’ favor.
European law requires that “a careful review” must take place before the Cabinet can pursue the planned cutbacks at Schiphol, Harbers said in reference to the court ruling. “The court refers here to the balanced approach procedure based on EU Regulation 598/2014 on noise-related operating restrictions at airports." The lengthy EU procedure involves consulting all stakeholders and proving that no other measures would have the same effect as reducing the number of flights. The government is following that procedure for a further reduction to 440,000 flight movements in the 2024/25 season. The court did not ban that reduction.
He interpreted the ruling as saying that the court thinks the Netherlands did not follow the procedure outlined in the EU regulation. “By not doing so, the State is acting in violation of the EU Noise Ordinance,” Harbers said when summarizing the ruling. But as the ruling is not in the best interests of those living around the Amsterdam airport, Harbers can't just accept the court-imposed delay in the planned reduction and will appeal, he said.
A few days before the ruling, the state-owned Schiphol Airport announced a plan to eliminate overnight- and private jet flights in the coming two years. According to the airport, that should cut at least 10,000 night flights per year. The court ruling doesn’t affect these plans.