Ministers propose revisions to EU airport noise regulations
Published: June 9, 2012
The European Commission (EC) is recommending the adoption of ICAO’s so-called “balanced approach” to replace existing regulation on noise management at the region’s airports.
At Thursday’s Council of EU Transport Ministers, the EC recommended that the ICAO standards and EU best practice in noise management become European law in order to even out disparities between states and ensure that certain processes are adhered to where measures are taken to mitigate air traffic noise.
For example, the EC has recommended that competent authorities should be able to focus on marginally compliant aircraft and phase them out first, instead of introducing general night flight bans, which also affect operators of much quieter aircraft. The transport ministers have accepted a more stringent definition of “marginally compliant aircraft,’” with step-by-step implementation towards greater stringency.
The EC said these revisions would establish a European framework that would give citizens a visible process for making their views known, national authorities clear decision-making parameters, and operators greater predictability and legal certainty.
Decisions on the substance of noise-related operating restrictions would remain with member states, but the proposals include the option for an EC quality check to ensure the process is in compliance with international commitments.
EC VP in charge of transport Siim Kallas said after the meeting: “Transport ministers have been able to reach a general approach on this politically sensitive issue which is an important step. Decisions on noise restrictions will remain clearly for member states, but I am also conscious of the impact of restrictions on the aviation network. So we have to ensure a process which is fair and which respects international rules.”
Noise is one of the three legislative measures proposed by the EC in December 2011 as part of the “Better Airports” Package: the other two are slots and ground-handling. Agreement on ground handling was reached at the March Transport Council, and agreement on the airport noise issue is expected by the end of June. Work on the slots element will begin in the second half of this year, with the European Parliament scheduled to vote on the whole package at the end of 2012.