SP: keep noisy NATO planes out of Dutch airspace

6 December 2007

SP: keep noisy NATO planes out of Dutch airspace

If NATO continues to refuse to update the engines of its outmoded AWACS radar planes, the Netherlands should close its airspace to these aircraft, argued Jan de Wit in parliament on Thursday. The SP Member of Parliament's proposal won support from a majority of his fellow MPs.

Jan de WitResidents of the region of South Limburg have for decades been burdened by the intolerable din and stink from low-flying AWACS aircraft. The planes arrive day and night from nearby airforce bases over the German border in Geilenkirchen, flying around above residential areas, even during the weekend. The aircraft are equipped with 1970s engines which are now so outmoded that in the United States itself they are banned for civilian air traffic.

De Wit is demanding that NATO to take a decision, by next March at the latest, to update the planes by replacing their engines with much quieter modern models. If NATO refuses to do this, he proposes that the planes be refused permission to enter Dutch airspace.

Problems have grown since January of last year when, despite vigorous protests from local inhabitants and the SP, 6 hectares (just under 15 acres) of woodland was felled in Onderbanken in Limburg. This was done because NATO argued that they got in the way of the AWACS aircraft when they were taking off and landing. The felling of the trees, which was retrospectively declared to have been illegal by the Netherlands' Council of State, meant that noise nuisance increased as the planes' free run allowed them to carry a greater weight.

You are here