Report Forum 2040
Dialogue session 21 February 2018 - Summary of the presentations and suggestions from the thematic sessions
Summary of the Tractebel presentation
- Doing nothing is not an option: given that by 2040, the number of passengers at Brussels Airport is expected to increase (to 40 million per year) and freight is expected to double (increasing to 925 million tonnes per year), a status quo of the current mobility strategy is not feasible.
- If nothing happens, Tractebel expects demand for parking spaces at the airport to double, and the journey time between the ring road and the terminal could exceed 1 hour.
- The objective which is presented in the Strategic Vision 2040 is to bring the overall modal distribution between cars and other modes of transport (public transport, bike) to the same level as other major European airports: today 70 % of passengers and airport workers travel to Brussels Airport by car. By 2040, the aim is to bring down this figure to 50 %.
- There is a series of things that Brussels Airport can do itself to reach this objective, including intensive communication, car sharing, private shuttles, promoting/financing public transport, encouraging alternative modes of transport to cars in mobility policy, decentralising parking spaces, drop-off areas, taxis, a free automated airport shuttle.
- But there are also a series of levers to improve mobility around the airport which are not dependent upon Brussels Airport Company, including a road tax, new infrastructure and new services (cycle paths, access from the E40, new road network within the airport), new connections (Brabantnet, TGV) and increased frequency of public transport (trams, trains, buses).
Suggestions from participants
- There is a general consensus about the fact that several aspects of public transport (train, tram, bus) can be optimised: frequency, punctuality, comfort and price. Many participants ask for public transport to be better tailored to working hours, with a service running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Better coordination of the existing services offered by the different transport companies is desirable.
- There is also quite a wide consensus about the fact that the introduction of a single ticket for all public transport modes (NMBS/SNCB, De Lijn, MIVB/STIB, TEC, etc.) would greatly improve travel comfort for all passengers.
- Several participants referred to other large European airports (such as Madrid and Zurich) and pointed out that they can be accessed via metro and/or high-speed rail. This should also be possible for Brussels Airport.
- Some participants feel that the information about access to the airport should be better, certainly for tourists.
- For aspects related to mobility (use of bikes, etc.) Brussels Airport Company should check to what extent it can stimulate or facilitate initiatives with the companies present at the airport.
Summary of the To70 presentation
- Due to the growth of air traffic expected at Brussels Airport, some adjustments are essential. They will be carried out in two phases: firstly, optimisation of the current use of runways, followed by adjustments to the runway infrastructure (with two possible options: either an extension of the taxiway to runway 25L (option A), or an extension of runway 25L with a corresponding taxiway (option B)).
- The To70 experts were asked to determine the impact of these developments and the growth of air traffic on the level of airborne noise.
- According to To70, the number of flight movements will increase compared to today, but will remain, also in 2040, under the level which we experienced in 2000 (326,000 flight movements in 2000, 239,000 in 2015, 315,000 in 2040).
- According to To70, the number ‘persons severely impacted’ (persons located in the Lden (Level day-evening-night) noise contour of 55dB) will drop between now and 2040 despite the increase in flight movements, both with option A and option B.
- According to To70, this is mainly thanks to adjusted flight procedures and an improvement in technology (quieter planes).
Suggestions from participants
- Some participants argued in favour of abolishing all night flights.
- According to some, Brussels Airport should be asked to play a more active role in solving the conflict about air routes.
- According to a number of participants, the studies carried out by To70 are based on European and international standards which they feel need to be reviewed. They asked for a new study to be carried out based on other criteria, in order to determine which people are heavily affected by airborne noise.
- Some participants asked whether it would be possible to carry out further studies into the impact of airborne noise, in particular by taking better account of the impact related to the frequency or the liveability aspect.
- It was asked whether Brussels Airport could use a share of its profits to feed a compensation fund for the damage caused by its activities.
- Some participants asked whether it would be possible to spread flights at Brussels Airport more evenly over the full day.
Summary of presentations by Tractebel and VITO
- According to the expert from Tractebel, to a large extent, the air quality around the airport is determined by road traffic: we only see the annual average NO2 limit value of 40 µg/m³ being exceeded close to the busiest motorways.
- It is expected that the impact of road and air traffic will drop in the future, in particular due to new technologies, the use of biofuels and adapted flight procedures (later lowering of landing gear, etc.) and electric taxiing.
- According to Tractebel, the emissions from air traffic do not lead to the limit value exceedances: the overall impact quickly drops with the distance to the take-off/landing runway and the impact also drops with the height at which emissions are released.
- According to the conclusions by the VMM (Flemish Environment Agency) and VITO, the air quality with respect to NO2 and black carbon around the airport are determined by road traffic.
- Road transport is the biggest source of ultrafine particles (UFPs), but airport activities are also a local source. With respect to UFPs, strictly speaking we cannot differentiate between the share created by air transport and that created by other sources.
- With regard to the situation in 2040, Tractebel expects that air transport emissions will not lead to exceedances of limit values.
Suggestions from participants
- Several participants asked whether it would be possible to spread measures against ultrafine particles over a longer period, as is currently being done already at Schiphol, but also over a wider geographical area.
- Several participants called for measures and modelling to be combined, in order to obtain even more representative results.
- Several participants suggested asking Flemish universities to study the impact of ultrafine particles on health, in order to have terms of reference.
Summary of the presentations by KU Leuven
- According to the expert from KU Leuven, there are two types of ground noise: aeroplane-related ground noise (taxiing, APU (auxiliary power unit), test runs) and road transport-related ground noise (movements close to the airport).
- According to the expert from KU Leuven, ground noise at the head of runway 25L between 06.00 and 07.00 will be similar to that at the head of runway 25R, mainly due to the increasing number of departing aircraft.
- According to the expert from KU Leuven, the impact of this can be significantly limited using noise barriers.
- The calculations made by KU Leuven did not take into account a number of expected technological developments. Through measures like electric taxiing and the arrival of new, quieter planes, the impact could be limited even further than the extent assumed for these simulations.
Suggestions from participants
- Some participants asked for the issue of compensation for residents impacted to be put squarely on the agenda.
- Several participants called on Brussels Airport to be actively committed to taking measures to reduce the impact.
- As was the case for airborne noise, several participants asked whether it would be possible to perform studies showing the impact of the ground noise at rush hours and between 06.00 and 07.00.
- Several participants expressed regret that the KU Leuven study only contains average values. According to them, it is the peaks that have a major impact on people’s quality of life.
- Some participants expressed regret that the KU Leuven study was limited to the presentation of a noise contour on the ground based on a limit of 50 dB. According to them, recent studies have shown that the noise would have an impact on health as of 40 dB.
- Some participants wondered whether it would be possible to take additional measures to reduce the ground noise, such as the use of less noisy asphalt or adding plants close to the piers and airport buildings.
Summary of the presentation by Arcadis
- Arcadis studied the direct and indirect impact of five possible scenarios linked to the Strategic Vision 2040: option A (construction of a taxiway to the north of runway 25L) without a sound buffer, with an open sound buffer and with a closed sound buffer, and option B (extension of runway 25L and construction of a taxiway) without a sound buffer and with a sound buffer.
- As shown in the KU Leuven presentation, the construction of a noise barrier would considerably limit the sound impact on the surrounding area. According to Arcadis, this noise barrier would of course have a direct spatial impact too. Depending on the scenario, there would be an impact on up to 22 buildings and a maximum surface area of 94.85 ha would need to be taken up. The biggest impact would be if option B with a sound buffer is chosen.
- Of course this is still a Vision, and not an implementation plan. According to the expert from Arcadis, in any case, a noise barrier 18 metres high would never be installed along the full length of the route. In his opinion there are a whole series of potential mitigating measures to see how the noise buffers can be integrated into their environment in the best possible way, so that they don’t have a drastic visual impact.
Suggestions from participants
- All participants agree on the importance of a stable framework which enables a clear spatial planning policy.
- According to different participants, investing in home insulation is one of the solutions in order to limit the impact of ground noise.
- There were requests to further investigate the liveability aspect for residents whose houses are not impacted by the extension or installation of a noise barrier, but who live in its immediate surroundings.
- There was concern about the effect of the options being considered on agricultural land, which would be cut off to the south if option B is chosen. The consequences for the agricultural land must thus be well mapped out.
- It was suggested to use the slopes of the noise barriers for useful purposes. A few suggestions: vineyards, sports halls, mountain bike trail.
- Various participants asked whether it would be possible to install a noise barrier in other places, for example along Felix Timmermanslaan in Diegem or in Zaventem (centre).
Summary of presentations by the National Bank of Belgium and ACI Europe
- The National Bank of Belgium carried out a study on the economic importance of air transport and airport activities in Belgium.
- This study shows that the added value generated by Belgian air transport and airport activities as a whole experienced growth of more than 15 % between 2013 and 2015.
- The jobs generated by air transport and airport activities increased by 4.9 % during this same period, particularly in freight activities.
- According to the study by the National Bank of Belgium, Brussels Airport represents close to 80 % of the added value and over 75 % of jobs generated by airport activities in Belgium.
- Brussels Airport represents 1.4 % of the Gross Domestic Product and 1.5 % of employment in the Flemish Region.
- ACI Europe, the association which brings together all major airports, also measures the economic impact of airports.
- ACI Europe states that a 10 % growth in air connectivity of a country leads to growth of 0.5 % in GDP per inhabitant of this country.
- If we add the other impacts (direct, indirect, derived, catalytic), according to ACI Europe, airport activities generate over 12.3 million jobs in Europe, as well as €674.5 billion of GDP and 4.1 % of European GDP.
- For Belgium, ACI Europe evaluates the economic impact of airports at 171,700 jobs, €14.7 billion of GDP and 3.8 % of national GDP.