Plans by Brussels Airport to extend one of its runways to become the longest in Europe are causing rumblings of protest in the municipalities of de rand, or the Flemish periphery around Brussels. The plans were leaked to Het Nieuwsblad.
The main element of the plan is the extension of runway 25L to a length of four kilometres, an addition of 800 metres, in the direction of Erps-Kwerps. That would allow the runway to be used for take-offs as well as landings.
But local residents fear an increase in aircraft noise, not only because of growth in the number of flights, but also because more people would be affected. According to Eric Van Rompuy, councillor in charge of town planning for Zaventem, where the airport is located, planes would be able to take off directly over the centre of the town, then turn left to fly over Sterrebeek and Tervuren.
“Flights over Brussels could be limited, with the nuisance being passed on to the eastern periphery,” he told Belga newswire. “That is unacceptable.”
For Frederic Petit, mayor of Wezembeek-Oppem, the extended runway is a means of relieving airlines of the burden of paying fines for noise nuisance. At present, airlines are faced with fines if they do not respect the strict noise limits in force over the capital.
“Brussels Airport Company will avoid that by reducing the number of flights over Brussels and send more planes out over Flanders,” said Petit. “In practice, planes taking off from runway 25L will fly at very low altitude over Sterrebeek, Tervuren, Wezembeek and so on.”
Brussels Airport has so far declined to comment on the leaked plans.