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Judge halts government's plan to reduce noise pollution around major airport: 'A slap in the face to local residents'

The decision was not well received by environmental organizations.

Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, noise pollution around airport

Photo Credit: iStock

It was supposed to help reduce air and noise pollution from one of the busiest airports in Europe, but the Dutch government's effort to restrict international flights going in and out of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has been blocked by a local court.

The plan was aimed at slowing traffic by reducing flights to and from the hub from 500,000 to 460,000 international flights between winter 2023-2024 and summer 2024, according to reports about the Preliminary Scheme Schiphol, published by the Dutch government in January. 

KLM, the Netherlands' largest airline, along with other flyers, including Delta and EasyJet, challenged the recommendations. 

"KLM believes that sustainability policies – due to the global scope of aviation – should be regulated internationally as much as possible," the company told CNN in March. But, it said, being the only country in the world to set up a national carbon pollution ceiling "does not match with an internationally operating sector and international policy," it said.

Airlines and other organizations led by KLM filed a case against the government in an effort to halt the planned flight cuts.

A Haarlem court near Schiphol agreed with KLM earlier this month, the Associated Press reported.

The judge ruled that the Dutch government could not enforce the restrictions, delivering the decision a day after the airport announced it would be phasing out all flights between midnight and 5 a.m., including private jets and the noisiest planes. The judge's decision said the Dutch government did not follow the correct procedure when it asked Schiphol to reduce the number of flights.  

KLM says it will work to reduce noise and CO2 emissions while meeting travelers' "need to fly."

Its procedure "will investigate whether noise levels can be reduced around Schiphol using methods other than those envisaged by the ministry," KLM said in a statement.

The decision was not well received by environmental organizations.

"Major polluter KLM is giving a slap in the face to local residents, the climate, and the government that saved the company from bankruptcy," Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, among other groups pushing for more sustainable flight restrictions, said, according to the Associated Press. "This ruling may cause a delay, but Schiphol will shrink. We are convinced of that. The government has now also started the correct procedures for this."

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