Strasbourg comment: Air traffic noise

Jörg Leichtfried explains aircraft noise restriction proposals as part of the airport package ahead of the vote in plenary

By Jörg Leichtfried

15 Apr 2014

As part of the airport package the new regulation harmonises rules on how authorities take decisions to set operating restrictions at EU airports to limit nuisance from aircraft noise. The rules are based on principles agreed by the International civil aviation organisation, known as the balanced approach to noise management. Measures to deal with a noise problem may include the withdrawal of especially loud aircrafts ("marginally compliant aircrafts") or, as a last resort, a night ban on flights.

At the initiative of the European parliament, local authorities will retain their powers to decide on noise related measures independently, denying the commission the aspired right of scrutiny. Strong subsidiarity for local authorities has been a key point for me as a rapporteur as well as a large majority of the European parliament.

Moreover, the competent authorities are to ensure that information related to operating restrictions is made available free of charge and is promptly accessible to citizens living near airports. Another key element was the inclusion of health aspects. Mitigating harmful effects on human health will therefore be one of the objectives of the regulation. In addition, the commission has been obliged to address health-related aspects of aviation noise by revising the environmental noise directive 2002/49/EC.

Citizens' involvement is crucial when it comes to noise abatement measures. Therefore mediation processes will be recognised not only in the transition between the existing directive 2002/30/EC and the new regulation, but also in the context of the new regulation:  Outcomes of on-going consultations that started but not finished under the existing directive will have to be respected still one year after the new regulation enters into force.

Parliament will vote on this report on Wednesday 16 April at 18:00.

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