On 6th February this year, Melchior Wathelet (Belgium’s secretary of state in charge of Environment, Energy and Mobility) introduced a plan that reorganizes the departure routes from Brussels airport in Zaventem. As a result of this “Wathelet Plan”, the majority of departing aircraft are routed over densely populated areas of central and southern Brussels. The changes are deeply controversial and deeply unpopular among the Brussels residents, who have not been intensively over-flown before. There is huge anger about the changes, and that the numbers over-flown are now far higher than before. On the plus side, some areas that were previously over-flown now have fewer flights. Now almost 18,000 residents have signed a petition to suspend the Wathelet Plan. Its opponents say it was introduced without any prior consultation with local residents, and that in other EU countries, such a consultation process is a regulatory requirement before any change to aircraft flight paths is made. An active group called “Pas Question!” – which means “No Way!” has formed, and they regard the new flight paths as nonsensical. They want the plan cancelled, and are convinced that an alternative policy is possible.
Pas Question! is on Twitter at @NonPasQuestion
and on Facebook at Pas Question!
Website at http://www.pasquestion.be/en
They now find the new dispersed flight path plan was adopted by the Federal Government, without consultation, despite its enduring damages to Brussels
The regard this Plan as not offering any long-term solution but instead transferred the problem of aircraft noisecloser to the heart of Brussels.
They are determined that Brussels citizens and inhabitants must combat this nonsensical plan with all their efforts and with all means at their disposal. They are convinced that an alternative policy is possible.
On 6 February 2014 Melchior Wathelet – in his function as Belgium’s secretary of state in charge of Environment, Energy and Mobility – implemented a plan that reorganizes the departure routes from Brussels National Airport in Zaventem.
As a result of this plan, the majority of departing aircraft are routed over densely populated areas of Brussels. This plan – referred to by campaigners as the Plan Wathelet [Wathelet Plan] – soon became the object of controversy and led to a wave of complaints by residents affected by aircraft noise.
As of 1 May 2014, more than 13,000 residents had signed a petition to suspend the Plan Wathelet. [It now has over 17,700 signatures – 20.6.2014].
A revision of the plan was blocked by the government of Flanders in early May.
The main criticisms of the Wathelet Plan are that opponents say it was introduced without any prior consultation with local residents.
They say that in other European Countries, such a consultation process is a regulatory requirement before any change to aircraft flight paths is made (consultation is required in the UK, by the CAA).
Opponents also claim that no impact assessment was carried out prior to the publication of the new departure routes. They say the flight paths should over-fly less densely populated areas, and avoid heavily populated areas.
There is some dispute between different areas, and communities, of Brussels about how many residents are being over-flown – and affected by high levels of aircraft noise. There have been different figures produced by Mr Wathelet and by the Brussels minister for Environment Evelyne Huytebroeck.
The opponents of the changes argue that the new flight paths must be removed, as the number of people now over-flown is not acceptable. They say on their campaign website http://www.pasquestion.be/en/wathelet-plan
On one hand, the “left turn” flight path from [Brussels airport at] Zaventem has been enlarged. As a consequence, 35.000 planes now fly at low altitude over densely populated areas like SCHAERBEEK, ETTERBEEK, IXELLES, WOLUWE-Chant d’oiseau, AUDERGHEM and WATERMAEL-BOISTFORT
On the other hand, the so-called “route du canal” flight path goes over Brussels from one side to another, and is used by thousands of the heaviest carriers and night take-offs. This entails a strong and brutal deterioration of the quality of life in MOLENBEEK, BRUXELLES-VILLE, ANDERLECHT, FOREST, SAINT-GILLES et UCCLE.
All of this, in the name of a “fair” distribution of disturbances. In reality this plan saves certain neighbourhoods located east of the airport (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre/Stockel, Wezembeek et Kraainem) and move them over a capital city of 1.100.000 inhabitants !
This plan is absurd and must be immediately withdrawn.
The website contains interactive maps, showing where the flight paths are now going. Maps at http://www.pasquestion.be/en/wathelet-plan
On the map below, the new flight paths are shown with some going across the centre of Brussels and the south of the city. Before the changes, flights were concentrated to the east and south east, with some to the north. There were none across central and southern Brussels.
The Wathelet Plan which has been fully implemented on February 6th 2014 reorganizes flight paths from Zaventem airport and is composed of 3 main measures::
1. The use of the runway 19/01 is significantly reduced
Since ten years (the Anciaux Plan) WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE (Stockel), KRAAINEM and WEZEMBEEK areas located east of the airport are being impacted by planes at low altitude with approximately 7.000 takeoffs per year and 12.000 landing per year on the runway 19/01 (2012 traffic).
This situation had an undeniable impact on citizens living in these areas. The Wathelet Plan deliberately modifies the norms of wind used on this runway with the aim to reduce the use of this runway by 50 to 75%. This change has for consequence the intensive use of runway 25R where planes take off in the direction of Brussels city, inreasing nuisances for nearly all Brussels inhabitants. Furthermore these changes were heavily criticised by the pilots and air traffic-controllers.
2. Enlargement of the left turn
Before February 6, 44.000 planes per year were taking off from Zaventem on runway 25R which is facing Brussels, but planes used to take a sharp left turn in direction of Huldenberg avoiding flying over most of Brussels except areas such as WOLUWE-SAINT-LAMBERT, WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE (Stockel), KRAAINEM et WEZEMBEEK.
With the Wathelet Plan, 80% of these flights (35.000 planes per year) are redirected over other flight paths which go deeper into the Brussels region and fly over densely populated areas which were spared before. Areas such as SCHAERBEEK, ETTERBEEK, IXELLES, WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE (CHANT D’OISEAU), AUDERGHEM et WATERMAEL-BOITSFORT are now badly impacted with a high frequency of planes flying at a low altitude!
Out of the blue, citizens living in areas known for not being flew over by planes, find themselves in a situation with flights over their head from 6am until 11pm characterized by a dense traffic early the morning and late at night with an unavoidable increase of traffic during the summer (charter flights, low cost companies).
The remaining 20% (9.000 planes per year) are still on the northern part of the older flight way, avoiding areas which used to be impacted.
3. Heavy traffic concentrated on the « canal way or route du canal »
THE WATHELET PLAN also regroups many old flight paths on the so-called « route du canal » which respectively go over MOLENBEEK, EVERE, BRUXELLES-VILLE, ANDERLECHT, FOREST, SAINT-GILLES, UCCLE, DROGENBOS and LINKEBEEK.
Because of the Wathelet Plan, this path is also used for the heavy carrier flights (747, A330, etc …) which cause more noise pollution and fly at night and during week-ends. Citizens who used to live in areas known as being moderately impacted by planes are now flown over intensively by heavy carriers and at the worse time of the day or at night.
They list all the areas of Brussels, and which have gained – and which have lost – in terms of peace and quiet, and consequently quality of life, since the flight path changes. They also give the population density of the suburbs now adversely affected, showing them to have higher densities than the areas which now have less over-flying.
The Pas Question! group also say:
Worldwide, flight paths are deviated away from city centres for obvious reasons: to limit consequences in case of accident, and to protect from air / noise pollution, stress and other health hazards, populations already affected by urban nuisances (pollution from traffic, lack of green spaces, etc.)
Brussels International airport is ill-located, for historical reasons. The proximity of the airport has forever caused nuisances to the populations living nearby.
The very idea of solving airport neighbours’ problem by spreading flights Brussels’ city center is most absurd.
Politicians, who made airport neighbours believe that the Wathelet Plan was the solution to their nuisances problem, must be either irresponsible or incompetent.
The Pas Question! campaign says a recent study, commissioned by the Minister himself [Mr Wethelet] points out that the new routes fly over 405 700 inhabitants compared to 130,500 before the 6th February. The details of the study, in French, are at http://static.lecho.be/upload/Rapport_final_SPF_4872074-35014424.pdf
Another study by the Brussels Region government points out that 244,543 people are newly affected by aircraft noise nuisance (63% of people affected by aircraft nuisance); 113,505 people see their situation unchanged (29.3% of dwellers affected by aircraft noise nuisance); 29,679 see their situation marginally improve (7,65% of people affected by aircraft nuisance) and 1,165 Brussels residents are no longer under a flight path.
Thousands of people in Brussels are up in arms about a new overflight plan that started on 6th February, causing parts of the city subject to the thundering noise of planes using Brussels airport. The Belgian government has only a couple of weeks left to find a solution for a problem that dates back many, many years. As the airport is close to densely populated parts of the city, its flight paths would always over-fly a lot of people. The political choices of who should have to suffer the noise are complicated. Should the burden of the noise be shared between various areas? The flight path change is reported to be because, with the May elections this year, Melchior Wathelet (Sec of State for Environment, Energy, Mobility etc) of the Francophone Christian Democtrats (cdH) decided to do a political favour for the party’s vice prime minister, Joelle Milquet, by tweaking the flight paths over some municipalities, to help with votes. The Wathelet Plan decision can be blocked, under the constitution, for 60 days. That ends at the start of July. It is likely to be the out-going coalition that makes the decision. Lots of politics ….. parties will assess how the vote affects their political chances ….
A new study by the Brussels Region shows that the number of Brussels residents affected by noise exploded. The Brussels Region will sue for environmental cessation before the trial court to stop the Wathelet Plan.
Melchior Wathelet is not the end of his sentences. A new study by the Brussels Region shows that the number of Brussels residents affected by aircraft noise has greatly increased. This is due to the dispersion of aircraft taking off from Brussels Zaventem airport established by Melchior Wathelet (CDH), Secretary of State at the Federal.
Faced with this situation, the Brussels Region will sue for environmental cessation before the trial court to stop the Wathelet Plan.
The Environmental Action cessation seeks, initially the suspension of the plan for non-compliance with Brussels noise legislation, the Gosuin stopped from 1999 imposing increasingly stringent thresholds, more planes move away from the airport;and lack of assessment of environmental impacts of the plan, contrary to advocate European rules.
State Secretary for Mobility, Melchior Wathelet, has announced its evening he would come up with solutions in the coming days to aircraft noise experienced by the people of Brussels.
What does the study say?
Presented on Monday evening by the Minister Evelyne Huytebroek (Ecolo), Minister of the Environment in the Brussels Region, the number of Brussels residents affected by aircraft noise has exploded.
In reaching this conclusion, Evelyne Huytebroeck (Ecolo) asked his administration to increase the sound level on the area of the capital and to make accurate measurements of the level of aircraft noise, so you can quickly prepare a report on the noise nuisance to introduce where appropriate an action for environmental injunction. The points of comparison are March 2013 compared with March 2014.
Original in French:
Melchior Wathelet n’est pas au bout de ses peines. Une nouvelle étude menée par la Région bruxelloise montre que le nombre de Bruxellois touchés par les nuisances sonores a explosé. En cause, le plan de dispersion des avions de l’aéroport de Zaventem mis en place par Melchior Wathelet (cdH), secrétaire d’état au Fédéral.
Face à cette situation, la Région bruxelloise va intenter une action en cessation environnementale devant le tribunal de première instance pour faire stopper le Plan Wathelet.
L’action en cessation environnementale vise à obtenir, dans un premier temps une suspension du plan, pour non-respect de la législation bruxelloise sur le bruit, l’arrêté Gosuin datant de 1999 imposant des seuils de plus en plus sévères, plus les avions s’éloignent de l’aéroport; et pour absence d’évaluation des incidences environnementales du plan, contrairement à ce que préconisent les règles européennes.
Le secrétaire d’Etat à la Mobilité, Melchior Wathelet, a de son côté annoncé en soirée qu’il viendrait dans les prochains jours avec des solutions aux nuisances sonores des avions que subissent les Bruxellois.
Que dit l’étude?
Présentée ce lundi soir par la ministre d’Evelyne Huytebroek (Ecolo), ministre de l’Environnement à la Région bruxelloise, le nombre de Bruxellois touchés par les nuisances sonores a explosé. Pour arriver à cette conclusion, Evelyne Huytebroeck (Ecolo) avait demandé à son administration de multiplier les sonomètres sur le territoire de la capitale et de procéder à des mesures serrées du niveau du bruit des avions, de façon à pouvoir très vite établir un rapport des nuisances pour le cas échéant introduire une action en cessation environnementale. Les points de comparaison sont mars2013 et mars 2014.
L’étude a été menée par Bruxelles Environnement à l’aide des neufs sonomètres de la Région-capitale placés sous les routes aériennes et d’un dixième placé dans le quartier de la Chasse, à Etterbeek. Bruxelles Environnement a par ailleurs observé une explosion du nombre de plaintes d’habitants: 1056 entre le 6 février et le 16 avril dernier, contre seulement neuf pour le même période en 2013.
Le cabinet Wathelet est à nouveau au coeur de la tourmente concernant le survol de Bruxelles. Selon le journal Le Soir, des Boeing 777-Aerologic peuvent survoler Bruxelles de nuit alors que c’est illégal, et le cabinet est au courant.
16 Juin 2014
Huit Boeing 777-Aerologic (une “joint-venture” appartenant à DHL et Lufthansa Cargo) ont la permission de survoler Bruxelles de nuit depuis cinq mois et ce, en infraction avec la législation européenne et les règles acoustiques de l’aéroport de Zaventem, rapporte lundi Le Soir.
Pas trop de bruit?
Ces avions-cargos ne disposent pas de certification acoustique officielle requise. Le cabinet Wathelet serait au courant depuis le début de l’entorse légale, d’après Le Soir. L’administration reconnaît les libertés prises avec la loi. “Le QC maximum (quota de bruit) de ces avions n’aurait pas dû leur permettre de voler de nuit, mais cette décision de la DGTA a permis de remplacer deux vols DHL de nuit par un seul vol du 777. On passe de 5 à 4 vols DHL par nuit, tout en respectant le quota de bruit par vol car le 777 n’est pas complètement chargé”, justifie Laurent Ledoux, président du SPF Mobilité. DHL n’a pas confirmé cette réduction de vols de nuit.
The Wathelet cabinet is again at the heart of the turmoil on the over-flying of Brussels. According to the newspaper Le Soir, Boeing 777-Aerologic is being allowed to fly over Brussels at night, while it is illegal, and the firm is aware of this.
June 16, 2014
There is a short video on the story, but in French Link
Eight Boeing 777-Aerologic (a “joint venture” belonging to DHL and Lufthansa Cargo) are allowed to fly over Brussels at night for five months and, in breach of European legislation and noise rules of Brussels Zaventem airport, Le Soir reported on Monday.
Not too loud?
These freighters do not have the official noise certification required. The Wathelet cabinet would have know since the beginning of the legal tussle, according to Le Soir. The administration recognizes the liberties being taken with t he law. “The maximum QC (noise quota) of these aircraft would not have been allowed to fly at night, but this decision DGTA has replaced two flights DHL night by a single flight of 777. Were from 5 DHL 4 flights per night, while respecting the noise quota per flight for the 777 is not fully charged “justifies Laurent Ledoux, President of the FPS Mobility. DHL has not confirmed this reduction of night flights.