The European Commission welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to make the rules on noise-related operating restrictions more transparent and evidence-based.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “These new rules will make it easier to find solutions that will satisfy citizens living close by the airports without losing sight of the important economic impact that those airports have on local economies, and in full respect of international rules.”
With these new rules, national and local authorities keep responsibility for concrete decisions about noise-related operating restrictions, tailored to the particular characteristics of each airport. However, those decisions will be taken following an EU harmonised process. This will guarantee a fair outcome for all. The role of the Commission will be to review the quality of the process and, if necessary, take appropriate legal action before restricting measures are implemented, in order to guarantee the rights of citizens, businesses and all interested parties.
Noise restrictions are measures affecting the capacity of an airport to operate, for instance by introducing noise quotas, restricting the use of runways, phasing-out the noisiest aircraft or imposing night bans.
The process for any future decision on airport noise focuses on:
Evidence gathering on the basis of internationally recognized data and methods;
Timely and substantial consultations with all stakeholders;
Provision of sufficiently long notification times to the impacted operators.
Finally, national authorities will decide what is the acceptable level of noise for each specific case and find the most cost-effective solution to mitigate the noise impact.
Air traffic noise affects some 2.5 million citizens in Europe. At the same time, aviation activities boost local economic growth and employment. The challenge is to pursue regional and local policies which maximize connectivity, whilst mitigating the environmental impact of noise.
The new rules will facilitate this process. They clarify the relationship with strategic noise mapping actions undertaken under the Environmental Noise Directive and they strengthen the evidence base for decision makers so that the most cost-effective measures can be selected. The new rules are fully compliant with the international principles on noise management, the so-called ‘Balanced Approach’ developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The measures were proposed by the Commission as part of the Better Airport package. The proposals on slots and groundhandling are still pending.
What happens next?
Today’s decision ends the ordinary legislative procedure. The President of the Council and the President of the European Parliament now have to sign the European law. The new rules will then be published in the coming months. They are expected to enter into force two years after publication, i.e. around mid-2016.