Environmental impact assessment: The effects of growth

Schiphol’s environmental impact assessment (MER) is a hot topic at the moment. The assessment report sets out the environmental impact of the current runway use compared to the way we used to use our runways. The MER also shows the extent of Schiphol’s potential growth in air transport movements – always staying within the agreed limits – and what the effects of that growth would be on noise, air quality, safety, nature and spatial planning.

The path of least inconvenience

The environmental impact assessment provides a factual basis for consultations with the local community. The MER has arisen from the demand from local residents, authorities and the aviation sector to implement a new system for runway use that causes less inconvenience to the local community and that offers Schiphol the space it needs to develop. Since 2010, when conditions permit, Schiphol has used a combination of runways that produces the least possible disturbance. Click here to read more about noise and runway combinations.

Calculating the environmental impact

Before this system of runway use can be legally confirmed, an environmental impact assessment must be carried out. Schiphol began work on this in 2015. The MER calculates all the environmental effects of noise, air quality and safety on the natural environment and spatial planning in a variety of scenarios. The report was completed in 2016. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management charged independent experts on the MER Committee to check the calculations contained in the MER, and those experts approved the calculations. Schiphol was advised to recalculate the section on noise nuisance to bring it into line with the most recent European guidelines, and that is exactly what we did.

Schiphol Local Community Council

The environmental impact assessment was again put before the MER Committee in the summer of 2017, with a positive outcome. The MER was then sent to the Schiphol Local Community Council (ORS) with explanatory notes. The Schiphol Local Community Council gives residents’ representatives, administrators and the aviation sector a platform to come together to discuss the development of Schiphol after 2020. The environmental impact assessment is an important factual basis for the ORS, so it is important for all the environmental effects to be properly identified.

Additional recommendations

Just when the environmental impact assessment for Schiphol seemed to be ready, a calculation error was discovered in the MER for Lelystad Airport, which caused the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management to decide to revisit Schiphol’s MER. She called in her colleagues from the British Civil Aviation Authority to help. On the basis of their recommendations, we expect to present the environmental impact assessment for Schiphol to the ORS by the end of 2018. The report is intended to serve as the factual basis for further discussions about the moderate growth of the airport.

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