ED: The new rules on aircraft noise in Germany is so important, I thought I'd send it again in more visible form. Sydney airport and Bankstown corporations would not be so cocky and aggressively gung ho about unlimited expansion if such laws were introduced here. Point of concern which I'll repeat, is that if the EU tightens up noise regulations, and if the US is subsequently forced to find other airports for its noisy old hushkitted aircraft (rustbuckets), and if we go down the US path instead of the more sustainable EU path, Australia and Asia could end up copping the noisiest of the US cargo fleets.

Germany clamps down on aircraft noise
ENDS Daily - 25/02/00
The German government is to introduce drastic new curbs on aircraft noise around airports, it was announced on Tuesday. Under a draft law unveiled by environment minister Jürgen Trittin, maximum noise levels around airports would be cut to between 60 and 65 decibels compared with current limits of 67 and 75 decibels. Expanded noise protection zones and better sound-proofing for buildings around airports would also be required. Night-time noise limits in residential areas would be cut from around 60 decibels currently to 50 decibels.

Mr Trittin said the proposals were designed to tackle the health effects of aircraft noise. According to new research, people exposed to noise levels above 65 decibels suffer stress and a higher risk of heart problems. "There has been no change to aircraft noise regulations since 1971. We need an up-to-date law to protect people from increasing levels of air traffic," Mr Trittin added.

Germany's aviation industry has criticised the proposals. The national airports federation ADV argued that the new law would create "significant difficulties" for the sector.

Follow-up: German environment ministry (http://www.bmu.de), tel: +49 30 28550.

Airports support EU "green aviation" plan ENDS Daily - 16/02/00
European airports have come out in strong support for the European Commission's threat to introduce unilateral aircraft noise standards for the EU if international rules are not tightened quickly. The endorsement, from industry association ACI Europe, comes in a response to a Commission communication published last year setting out how to alleviate the environmental impacts of aviation (ENDS Daily 1 December 1999).

The EU is "one of the most densely populated areas in the world" and should "adopt its own [appropriate] noise standards" if world governments fail to agree new restrictions by 2001, ACI says. The EU is embroiled in a dispute with the USA over aircraft noise, with a controversial European ban on some "hushkitted" aircraft due to come into force in May (ENDS Daily 9 February).

The association said it was pleased to see an intention to propose an EU-wide noise classification scheme and a recognition of the need to improve land-use planning rules affecting airports and nearby residential development. It also called for "urgent reform" of "fragmented" air-traffic control systems, as these cause "delays which generate unnecessary environmental costs."

It said the introduction of "environmental criteria" into the allocation of take-off and landing slots "may be useful" but stressed that airports should be "free to make decisions in individual situations." It added that emissions trading by airports "needs further investigation".

Follow-up: ACI Europe (http://www.aci-europe.org), tel: +32
2 513 3243.

Brussels airport noise policy approved ENDS Daily - 15/02/00
The Belgian government has approved a noise reduction plan for Brussels airport, drawn up after the prime minister overruled attempts by his Green transport minister to ban night flights. The plan will now aim for the "longest possible period of quiet" during night hours.

Isabelle Durant's plan to close the airport to all traffic between 01.00 and 05.00 from 2003 (ENDS Daily 6 January) was swiftly contradicted by Guy Verhofstadt last month (ENDS Daily 13 January). Mr Verhofstadt said the new plan, approved at a cabinet meeting on Friday, was a "global and integrated policy" which would ensure the "necessary development" of the airport and a "methodical" reduction of noise nuisance.

Under the agreement, the noisiest aircraft will be grounded between 23.00 and 06.00 and tighter quotas will reduce total noise by 30% from 2003, despite a large projected increase in flights. Combined with a home insulation programme and land-use planning changes, the measures will halve the number of local residents subject to noise exceeding World Health Organisation guideline levels.

A new international high-speed "TGV" train link will be extended to the airport and the proportion of airport users arriving for flights by public transport will be raised from 18% to 40% by 2010. A nearby military airbase will be also be vacated to allow expansion of the airport.

Follow-up: Belgian federal government (http://belgium.fgov.be), tel: +32 2 501 0211; see also the minutes (http://faits.fgov.be/cgi/sga_cnct/sfi?LANG=FR) of last Friday's cabinet meeting and articles in Le Soir (http://www.lesoir.be).

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