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Noise and local community

Contributing to making the Schiphol region an appealing area to live and work

The Schiphol region must remain an appealing area to live and work. One of the ways in which we actively contribute to this is through our participation in the Alders Platform. The participants in this consultative body make agreements aimed at balancing the aviation activities at Schiphol and the quality of the surrounding area. Reducing the noise impact by stimulating the use of quieter aircraft and the reduction of ground noise also contribute to the appeal of the region as a living and working environment.

Alders Platform evaluates new noise standards

In August of 2010, the Alders Platform presented a recommendation to the Cabinet with regard to a new system for calculating the noise impact in the area around Schiphol. Both the Cabinet and Lower House adopted this recommendation, and a two-year experiment was subsequently launched on 1 November 2010. The new noise standards are based around the principle that runways causing the least amount of disturbance to the surrounding area should be used as often as possible, whereby the protection offered to the surrounding area is at least the same as under the current standards. During the experiment, the sector was expected to fly in accordance with the rules for strict preferential runway use. These rules had to be adhered to, even when there was a risk that the limits would be exceeded.

The experiment was completed on 1 November 2012. At present, an assessment is being carried out to determine whether the design of this new system of standards meets the expectations. The Alders Platform will present a recommendation to the State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment in the beginning of 2013.

Glide approaches

Glide approaches have the advantage that they require less fuel, reduce CO2 emissions and cause less noise disturbance to the local community. No agreement was reached in 2012 on expanding the number of silent glide approaches at Schiphol. Agreement was, however, reached on a set of temporary compensating measures. The main points of these measures are the reduction of the annual number of night flights from 32,000 to 29,000 and start of the night-time regime at 10:30 pm instead of 11 pm. The first glide approaches at Eindhoven Airport started on 18 October 2012.

 Lelystad Airport

At the end of March 2012, the Alders Platform presented a recommendation with respect to Lelystad Airport. The airport will be able to grow in phases to 35,000 and subsequently to 45,000 air transport movements per year. Starting in 2015, the airport will be able to accommodate part of the growth at Schiphol. The recommendation was adopted by the Lelystad city council on June 12th and, at the end of 2012, by the Cabinet. The growth is linked to agreements on noise disturbance reduction, nature conservation, accessibility and employment in the region. The main condition is that room must be created for future air traffic in the airspace for arrival and departure flight paths. In response to the agreements made in 2012, the paving was extended on both sides of the runway.

Noise capacity

The noise impact of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for the surroundings is calculated on the basis of noise enforcement points. For each of these points, the maximum noise impact per year has been established by law. If there is a risk that these limits will be exceeded, measures must be taken. There are 35 enforcement points that apply 24 hours a day and an additional 25 enforcement points that only apply during the night period.

At the beginning of April, Schiphol requested that substitute limits would be applied in connection with major repairs to a taxiway to the south of Runway 09-27 and major repairs to two access ways to Runway 18L-36R. This occurred again in mid-August, in connection with major maintenance to the precipitation draining system of Runway 09-27. We anticipated that there was a significant chance that the limit value of an enforcement point near this runway would be exceeded. Both requests were approved by the State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment. This has improved the situation at the critical enforcement point.

External factors, such as the weather conditions, also can affect the noise capacity. Due to the predominantly south and south westerly wind directions, frequent use was made of the southern runway combinations. At the beginning of October, Schiphol informed the Alders Platform of possible limit breaches at enforcement points to the south of Runway 06-24. The participants of the Alders Platform decided that no use would be made of the possibilities to avoid these potential limit breaches in view of the strict preferential runway use.

The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport) has conducted a meteo clause and cause and effect analysis and has applied the policy rules, on the basis of which it has established that there have been two formal limit breaches at enforcement points 32 and 33 in the operationing year 2012. The Inspector General has not yet decided whether a sanction will be imposed.

Local Community Contact Centre

The Local Community Contact Centre (Bas), a foundation of Air Traffic Control the Netherlands and Schiphol, provides information about air traffic and living in the vicinity of Schiphol. In the operating year 2012, 5,286 persons who had experienced noise disturbance from air traffic filed one or more complaints with this centre. This is a reduction of 2.5% compared with 2011.

To better analyse the nature of the complaints, the Local Community Contact Centre Schiphol makes a distinction between specific, period and general complaints. Of the total number of complaints filed, 84,674 concerned specific complaints, 42,069 concerned period complaints and 3,861 concerned general complaints. Of the complainants, 33 (0.6%) were qualified as ‘structural complainants’. This category was responsible for 59.3% of all complaints in 2012.

In its annual report, the Local Community Contact Centre Schiphol pays particular attention to the remaining category of complainants, the so-called 'focus category'. The 5,253 persons in this focus category filed 9.0% less specific complaints, 4.6% less period complaints and 7.3% less general complaints. Causes for the complaints included work that was carried out on runways and taxiways. In contrast to the previous year, no long-term maintenance was carried out on any of the runways in 2012, such as the maintenance that was carried out on Runway 06-24 in 2011, which had a significant effect on the number of complaints filed in that year.

At the end of 2011, the module Living near Schiphol was added to the website of the Local Community Contact Centre Schiphol. This module provides information about the use of the airport to anyone who has plans to move to or already lives in the vicinity of Schiphol. This includes information on the average number of times and the average height at which departing and arriving aircraft have flown over a specific location in the vicinity during the past year. Earlier in that year, the module Air Traffic InSight had been added, showing visitors the locations, speeds and altitudes of the aircraft in the vicinity of Schiphol as well as their destinations and places of origin. This information contributed to an increase in the number of visitors by 72% and an increase in the number of visits to the website by 38%.