Row over Dutch airports re-surfaces

Report suggests that new offshore airport would be infeasible as NGOs walk out of Schiphol talks

Dutch government plans to construct an offshore airport in the North Sea have been hit by new calculations stating that the airport would not be practically and financially feasible, national newspapers say. The transport ministry has declined to comment on the reports, saying that "all options" remain open until the government takes a decision on the future airport on 17 December (ENDS Daily 4 September 1998). Amsterdam's congested Schiphol airport, the fourth busiest in Europe, is already struggling not to exceed its quota of noise limits. To meet a growing need for new capacity beyond 2010 the government can either decide to expand and reconstruct Schiphol or build a new one offshore. According to the transport ministry spokesperson, there are "several variations on the options and a combination of the options is also possible". Environmental organisation the North Sea Foundation is fiercely opposed to the offshore airport. It says that the effects on the coast are not known, that the airport would be a danger to birds and that it would lead to more flying and therefore more carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, a group of environmental organisations has walked out of talks with the government on the future of Schiphol (ENDS Daily 18 February). They criticised the transport minister this week for "compromising environment" on the growth of Schiphol.

Follow Up:
Dutch transport ministry, tel: +31 70 351 6171; North Sea Foundation, tel: +31 30 234 0016.

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