Netherlands should close airspace to outmoded NATO planes

28 February 2008

Netherlands should close airspace to outmoded NATO planes

The Netherlands' airspace must be closed to NATO's outmoded, noisy and environmentally-damaging AWACS aircraft, according to SP Member of Parliament Jan de Wit. De Wit urged the Ministers of the Environment and Defence to stop AWACS flights, as it emerged that the planes would remain in service until 2035. Plans to continue their use are in direct conflict with the expressed will of the majority of Dutch MPs, who recently voted to answer NATO stubbornness over the aircraft with a ban on their use in the country's airspace.

Jan de WitAt the end of 2007 a motion presented by Jan de Wit was carried by Parliament, in which the minister was requested to close Dutch airspace if NATO was not prepared to update its planes' noisy engines. “NATO isn't prepared to cooperate in a solution to the nuisance caused to thousands of people in the Limburg region who suffer serious inconvenience from these old and noisy aircraft. The ministers must therefore stick to their guns and ban the AWACS flights over the Netherlands."

Since the motion was passed, the ministers have, however, been attempting to find a solution at European Union level, urging the inclusion of military aircraft under the strict standards applied to civilian air transport, which would result in the banning of the outmoded AWACS engines throughout the EU. "This is of course in itself a good idea," said De Wit, "but we don't want it to become an endless administrative process. The nuisance afflicting people in Limburg must be ended and ended quickly."

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