German cabinet adopts greener aviation paper

Airports concept aims to shift short-haul trips from air to rail, cut noise pollution, emissions

Greater public protection from noise pollution, reduced air emissions, plus a shift in short-haul flight traffic to rail are key environmental measures of a new "airports concept" agreed by the German cabinet yesterday.

The plan to overhaul national aircraft noise law was first announced by Green environment minister Jürgen Trittin earlier this year (ENDS Daily 25 February). It includes lower noise thresholds in protected zones and stronger night noise protection rules. Proposals for reducing emissions include pollution-linked landing charges. Planning exclusion zones could be created around airports to prevent housing developments.

A switch from short-haul flights to rail travel is to be achieved through structural changes already underway. A transport ministry spokesperson told ENDS Daily that a new network of rapid and frequent rail travel was being set up between cities.

Rainer Knauber said that it had not been difficult getting government agreement to transport minister Reinhard Klimmt's concept because calls from Mr Trittin to have further environmental measures included had been acted upon. The plan's overall aim is to accommodate a predicted doubling in air travel demand by 2015.

The draft law is now out to public consultation until the end of the year; the government hopes to see it enter into force in 2002.

German industry federation the BDI today welcomed the prospect of increasing Germany's airport capacity but strongly rejecting Mr Klimmt's proposal for emissions-related airport charges saying it would increase annual costs to the industry of euros 3.6m (DM7m) per year. Furthermore, it opposed further restriction of night flights saying: "air freight is night freight".

Follow Up:
German transport ministry, +49 30 20080, and press release; German environment ministry, +49 30 28550; BDI, tel: +49 30 20 28 14 50.

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