Important legal challenge by Vienna campaigners on noise compensation

Vienna airport has plans for a third runway, saying it is necessary due to increasing numbers of passengers etc. A decision due to be made on 8th November by the European Court of Justice could have major implications for campaigners across Europe.  The court will decide whether compensation should be paid to residents who experience noise as a result of new flight paths being introduced.  The compensation would be paid for loss of value of their property.  The case has been brought by AFLG (Antifluglärmgemeinschaft) which consists of the 38 citizens’ initiatives who are opposed to the proposed 3rd runway at Vienna Airport.  More details about the challenge in this newspaper article

Schwechat: death knell for 3rd Airport runway?


by George Renner (The Press)  

Apologies for bad translation from German below

An aircraft noise from Zwölfaxing opponent wants the impairment of affected land will be settled. The fate of the third runway of the airport Schwechat chooses the ECJ.

Vienna. Fate of the third runway of Schwechat airport – will it be built or not? 

Is not to be decided  in Vienna, not in St. Pölten, but in Boulevard Konrad Adenauer, inLuxembourg City.

The landmark decision will be made by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which can destroy plans for major infrastructure projects across the Union.

A doctor from Zwölfaxing gott the ball rolling: With the support of anti-aircraft noise community she complained to the state of Lower Austria and the Republic for damages.

Both would not give damages, for extensions of the airport – the new tower, the Skylink teminal, extensions of the runway, new car parks and the like have been built in the past decade.  Environmental impact assessments (EIA) have failed.  Those big process to protect the local residents and the environment from the impact of large construction and operational projects. The courts of first and second instance dismissed the complaint:

The doctor did not make any substantial damage claims, but only what lawyers describe as “pure economic loss”, namely the reduction of the value of their house in Zwölfaxing by the airport expansion. Such “pure economic loss” were not protected by the EU directive, which also on what the Austrian EIA legislation is based.

Commission stands on the side of applicant

The Supreme Court, however, had doubts concerning this interpretation – and submitted the question of whether the ECJ. should also take into account the loss in value of real estate in EIAs,  

In the proceedings in Luxembourg, which will be decided within three months, the doctor had enjoyed a stage win: The European Commission came up behind their demand: The protective purpose of the EIA  Directive covers also pure economic loss.

Advocate General Juliane Kokott – they will provide its Opinion on 8 November – If they can connect the ECJ to this view, the consequences would be enormous: not only that thousands of people in the vicinity of the airport would suddenly have claims against Lower Austria and the federal government .  Wolfram Proksch, attorney for the doctor, has already announced the event,  wanting to submit this as a  class action.

Not only does the method to the third runway would have to be reopened. At each EIA process in the future would also have to take into account and compensate for impairment – what major projects such as power lines, railways or road construction would increase extremely.


The original German is at




See earlier more detail about what is happening about Vienna airport:

Objections to plans for a 3rd runway at Vienna airport


14.9.2012  Vienna airport has plans for a third runway, saying it is necessary due to increasing numbers of passengers etc.  In July a consultation process started, on the environmental impact assessment. This has now closed, and there have been at least 25 appeals sent in.  The second phase of the decision process will be handled by the Department of the Environment.  Realistically, a final decision on the runway will not happen before 2014/15.  Expansion opponents fear that their objections will not be listened to. A spokesman for the initiative opposing the  runway plans said a few weeks ago that the construction of the road is already a foregone conclusion. The airport’s dialogue forum says residents groups are happy that more stringent noise and night flight regulations had been incorporated than provided by law.