Yesterday, the Dutch Minister of Nature and Nitrogen Policy granted theSchiphol Airport a permit to operate a maximum of 500,000 flights per year.
The Dutch government, which planned a reduction in flights at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport to preserve the environment, dropping it from 500,000 to 460,000 in 2024 and then 440,000 annual flights in 2025, is letting go. Schiphol Airport has indeed obtained a Nature permit. The outgoing Minister of Nature and Nitrogen Policy, Christianne Van der Walmade this known in a letter addressed to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
The permit will allow Schiphol to carry out between 440,000 and a maximum of 500,000 flights per year. The issue of the Nature permit for Schiphol was recently declared controversial by the Tweede Kamer of the Netherlands. Van der Wal stressed that she was aware that the subject was sensitive. However, she declared that she proceeded to issue the permit because it is a “individual permit application” compliant with legal criteria and procedures. “This decision is independent of political considerations or political decision-making and concerns the implementation of existing policy”she said in the letter. “In addition, I think it is important that Schiphol respects the laws and regulations”she added.
Although Schiphol has not complied with nitrogen regulations in recent years, this deviation has been tolerated. To comply with the law, Schiphol acquired nitrogen rights from twelve neighboring farmers last year. Schiphol described it as a “important moment”stating in a press release that “This shows that Schiphol meets all the requirements of the Nature Protection Act.”
This is an important milestone, as obtaining this permit means that Schiphol is once again complying with current laws and regulations. Furthermore, the permit allows the government to introduce new policies for Schiphol, such as a decree on airport traffic containing a new approach with strict environmental and noise limits for the aviation industry.
Schiphol management wants such a system to be put in place as quickly as possible, but at the latest in 2025-2026. It therefore calls on the government to propose a legally anchored system in which the means (the number of flight movements) is no longer the guiding principle, but rather the objective (structurally less nuisance and emissions, in accordance with theParis agreement on climate). This is how a better balance can be achieved between airport operations and the needs of the local environment and airport employees, while contributing to global climate goals.
The final number of authorized flights will be determined in the Airport Traffic Decree, which will define regulations related to noise pollution at the airport. Obtaining this nature permit was a condition before finalizing the decree.