EU parliament backs airport noise plan
MEPs have backed without significant changes a new EU plan for airports to have the option of progressively banning the noisiest aircraft using their runways so as to reduce noise nuisance. The move is a victory of the European Parliament\'s transport committee over the environment committee, which wanted more radical curbs.
Issued by the European Commission earlier this year as a replacement for the controversial EU ban on \"hushkitted\" aircraft, the draft directive is expected to be formally adopted by governments by the end of this month (ED 17/10/01). The parliament\'s cosmetic surgery on the proposal removes any serious obstacles to this.
Under the law, airports with a noise problem will be allowed to ban aircraft that are only \"marginally compliant\" with international noise emission standards, defined as any whose emissions are within 5 decibels (dB) of the standard. Bans should be phased in over a five-year period; operators will have the right of appeal.
Voting in Strasbourg this week, the parliament rejected environment committee calls for the ban to come in over four years and for it to apply to a wider range of airports. It also voted down proposals to increase the number of aircraft targeted by extending the margin of compliance to 8 dB (ED 22/2/02).
In amendments that were adopted, MEPs said airports should only need to wait six months after establishing a noise problem before introducing bans. The Commission had proposed double this period. Bans should relate to aircraft movements rather than aircraft themselves, they said, and an open-ended exemption for planes from developing countries should be limited to ten years.
Several other environmentally related dossiers went through the parliament this week. In a lengthy resolution MEPs branded as \"insufficient\" a series of biodiversity action plans published last year (ED 29/03/01). The resolution also contains the assembly\'s hopes for forthcoming talks on the UN biodiversity convention.
They said a specific plan should be prepared for forests and called for a measure of biodiversity to be added to the structural indicators in the EU\'s sustainable development strategy. In a separate vote, they called for an increase in funding for forest protection against fire and pollution.
Meanwhile, in two non-legislative \"own-initiative\" reports, the parliament blasted EU member states\' implementation of the urban wastewater treatment directive as \"restrictive and unhurried\" and set out their expectations for the EU\'s forthcoming \"Café\" clean air programme.
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