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Tension continues over regulation of Brussels Airport flight noise
Flanders' environment minister has lodged an appeal with Belgium's highest court in a row over who is responsible for regulating noise pollution at Brussels Airport.
Battles over airport noise in Brussels have been continuing for years – notably on how to reduce it in densely populated suburbs of Brussels including Woluwe Saint-Lambert, Woluwe Saint-Pierre and neighbouring Kraainem.
The latest in this long-running saga centres on who has the say over what needs or can be done to combat airport noise and noise pollution – Belgium’s federal government or the Flemish region.
Flemish minister of the environment Zuhal Demir has appealed to the Council of State against a royal decree from the federal government, which states that these decisions should be made at federal level.
According to the Demir, Flanders has sole jurisdiction over noise pollution around Brussels-Zaventem airport, as it is located in Flanders.
Her complaint that rules for the distribution of power in these decisions have not been respected comes after her previous bid in October to stop the modification of certain air routes over Brussels and its surroundings.
Belgium’s mobility minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) disagrees. He said that the text had been drawn up to simply respect a European Union rule obliging member states to say which authority is responsible for imposing restrictions at airports, for example concerning airport noise.
Belgium’s royal decree duly states that the federal mobility minister is responsible for all "federal competences", notably aeroplane noise levels.
“The Royal Decree’s sole aim is to allow the federal government to act against noise pollution linked to airport activity at Brussels-National airport in compliance with evolving European legislation,” Gilkinet said.
“It does not extend the powers of the federal state in terms of regulating airport noise pollution from airports.”
The federal government has until 11 December to reply to the Council of State.
Gilkinet said that the government must react “to continue to act in the interest of public health”.
He said that the federal level of government is “best placed, within the limits of its powers, to stand above the fray and carry out measures in the interests of the inhabitants of Belgium’s three regions”.