Liège airport could be forced to close over environmental permit issue

At the end of February, the auditor of the Council of State issued a negative opinion on the environmental permit for Liège airport. If this opinion is followed, the airport, which is vital for cargo transport, would have to cease operations overnight, L'Echo newspaper reported on Wednesday.

At the beginning of last year, the Walloon government renewed Liège airport's licence, limiting the number of flights to a maximum of 55,000 per year. This figure was the result of political negotiations: the minister in charge had originally had a maximum of 50,000 flights a year in mind.

However, the motivation for the permit still refers to 50,000 flights. For this reason, several parties, including Flanders, several Dutch municipalities and some environmental organisations, went to the Council of State to appeal against the new permit.

According to the newspaper L'Echo, the Council of State's auditor has now recommended that the permit, which runs until 2040, should be annulled. These opinions, while not binding, are usually followed by the Council.

Government "is aware of the situation"

Liège Airport has sent a warning to the Walloon government, asking it to remedy the situation without waiting for the legal decision. The Walloon minister for Airports, Adrien Dolimont, supports this approach. According to him, there is no need to renegotiate the number of annual flights. But not all members of the government agree: L'Echo reports that the Green party Ecolo wants to renegotiate the permit.

"We are aware of the situation at Liège airport," Walloon prime minister Elio Di Rupo ​ said in the Walloon Parliament on Wednesday. "We are doing everything possible to find the most appropriate solution."

A closure could have serious consequences for the Walloon and, by extension, the Belgian economy. Liège airport is the largest cargo airport in Belgium and one of the largest in Europe.



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