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Environmental Policies at Europe’s Airports (2000)

September 13, 2000

“National aviation policies and planning regimes throughout Europe appear overwhelmingly predisposed towards unrestrained airport development. Although environmental impact assessments are required by law, the resulting studies can be variable in content, tactical not strategic in outlook, as well as difficult to understand.”


“National aviation policies and planning regimes throughout Europe appear overwhelmingly predisposed towards unrestrained airport development. Although environmental impact assessments are required by law, the resulting studies can be variable in content, tactical not strategic in outlook, as well as difficult to understand.

At airport level, communities and local governments struggle to comment knowledgeably on proposed developments and often lack the resources to do so effectively. Transport Ministries and Civil Aviation Authorities constantly promote the sector’s expansion using outdated “predict and provide” techniques. Mitigation measures are seen as ineffective and increasingly outpaced by growth, with technological solutions that are designed to reduce pollution at source struggling to cope too.

“Predict and Provide” should be replaced by sustainable national aviation policies with clear short, medium and long term targets for controlling and reducing air transport’s environmental impacts over a 30 year timeframe. For example, a long-term aim could be to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions. A medium term goal could be to achieve noise impacts around airports that meet World Health Organisation guidelines.

National policies in this field should form part of a country’s overall sustainable transport objectives for air, road and rail and reflect sustainable commercial and personal needs. They should relate to climate change policies and Kyoto targets as well.”

Environmental Policies at Europe’s Airports