Flanders to appeal against Liège airport expansion
Flanders is appealing against the expansion of Liège airport. According to Flemish environment minister Zuhal Demir, the impact of the expansion on Flanders' territory has not been sufficiently examined. The international airport of Liège, in the French-speaking south of the country (Wallonia), is located a mere 8 kilometres south of the so-called 'language border' with Dutch-speaking Flanders.
"We delivered all our comments and concerns to the Walloon government in the spring, but this permit does not take them into account in any way," the N-VA (Flemish nationalists) minister argues.
The current licence for Liege Airport expires on 2 January 2023. The airport is mainly known for the large amount of cargo traffic it handles. "In the new licence application (which runs until 2043, ed.), the airport wants to double cargo operations from some 34.000 flights anually to more than 69.000 flights per year. The number of night-time flights in particular will rise sharply, with 480 additional night flights per month. An increase of 27 percent," minister Demir stated.
"As long as we do not receive guarantees that the impact of the planned expansion on our people and our environment has been investigated and remains limited, I will not let this dossier pass."
Liège airport is located eight kilometres from the border with Flanders. Complaints about noise and sleep disturbance are already fairly common among residents of the border region. According to Demir, it is therefore "strange that the new licence does not indicate in any way how often noise pollution is already currently being caused on Flemish territory, by which types of aircraft and via which flight routes". "Furthermore, nowhere is it indicated what kind of impact the additional airport activities will have on Flanders."
"As long as we do not receive guarantees that the impact of the planned expansion on our people and our environment has been investigated and remains limited, I will not let this dossier pass", Demir added.
Earlier this month, 12 municipalities from the Belgian and Dutch Limburg provinces (Riemst, Gingelom, Heers, Tongeren, Hoeselt, Bilzen, Lanaken, Voeren, Maastricht, Eijsden-Margraten, Gulpen-Wittem and Vaals) already appealed against the decision. Minister Demir is now backing those municipalities.
"As long as we do not receive guarantees (...), I will not let this dossier pass", Flemish Environment minister Demir said. © BELGA PHOTO BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS