New approach route to Schiphol hardly affects CO2 emissions

Minister Mark Harbers’ (Infrastructure) plan for a fourth, new approach route to Schiphol will reduce CO2 emissions much less than he calculated, according to action group Stop4deRoute. Harbers only looked at emissions in Dutch airspace. When looking at the entire route, the emission reduction is minimal, Peter van Thienen of Stop4deRoute told Trouw.

Currently, the flight paths to Schiphol run over three fixed points that all approaching aircraft fly over – the North Sea, near Lelystad, and near Rotterdam. The fourth approach route will go over the border between Gelderland and Utrecht, approximately where Utrechtse Heuvelrug, Gelders Vallei, and Veluwe come together.

According to Harbers, the new approach route is shorter, so aircraft use less fuel. That would reduce CO2 emissions by 7 to 8 percent.

Van Thienen calls that dubious because Harbers only looked at fuel consumption in Dutch airspace. Using figures from the European statistics agency Eurostat about the average length of a return flight at Schiphol, Stop4deRoute reached a CO2 reduction of only 0.2 percent. The group also examined the fuel consumption during the various phases of the flight. That increased the CO2 reduction slightly, to 0.5 percent.

According to Van Thienen, that minimal reduction in CO2 emissions is offset by the noise pollution that a whole new part of the Netherlands will also have to deal with. Landing planes make less noise than those taking off. Harbers expects the noise won’t exceed 60 decibels more than 20 times a day. But locals and the environmental impact assessment committee aren’t sure about that.

Van Thienen looked at the projections about aircraft noise and concluded that the new approach could reduce noise pollution in the area that currently suffers most under it, although that is not certain. What is certain is that the noise pollution will get worse under the new route, which means a whole new area will soon have to deal with this nuisance.

In total, 42,000 flight movements per year are expected on the fourth route, 115 a day. Harbers said the route is not intended to enable growth in air traffic, but it is possible. Van Thienen: “The small benefits you achieve in terms of sustainability – much smaller than suggested – are lost twice over as soon as aviation grows.”

Stop4deRoute has launched a petition to scrap Harbers’ plans for the new approach route to Schiphol. Over 36,000 people have already signed it.

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