(Bloomberg) -- Schiphol Airport, which has been operating without a required license for years, has finally been granted an environmental permit which will pave the way for the implementation of new noise and emission limiting policies.

The so-called nature permit brings Schiphol a step closer to carrying out environmental measures in its eight-point plan announced in April, including banning private jets and gradually tightening existing standards for aircraft that are allowed to depart and land at the Amsterdam hub.

The Dutch government, the airport’s majority stakeholder, has been facing increasing pressure to crack down on nitrogen emissions in a bid to protect the biodiversity of vulnerable conservation areas. Schiphol, the second-highest nitrogen emitter in the country according to a list shared by the government last year, applied for the permit in 2020 after The Hague found it had been operating without the required license.

Since then Schiphol had explored several options to speed up the application process including acquiring farms in a bid to offset its emissions.  

The permit allows the government to introduce new policies such as an Airport Traffic Decree with a new approach to environmental and noise limits. Schiphol now wants the government, which already announced plans to cut flights at the Amsterdam hub, to come up with a new system in which the number of movements is no longer the guiding principle. 

“Everybody is talking about the number of flights and what we would prefer is a strict boundary for CO2 emissions and noise hindrance,” said Schiphol spokesperson Hans van Kastel. The hub wants the new system “as soon as possible” and no later than 2025 to 2026, according to a statement.

The permit does not include the contested Lelystad Airport, a second airport near Amsterdam which was due to be operational in 2018 with a maximum of 45,000 annual flights. 

Its opening has been delayed for years due to concerns over noise and the environmental impact. The government previously said it would make a decision on Lelystad in 2024 but the collapse of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s fourth cabinet in July means the future of Lelystad is now up in the air.


©2023 Bloomberg L.P.