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Sssssh! Dutch Schiphol airport will tone down the noise

THE HAGUE (AP) — Amsterdam’s Schiphol, one of the top airports in Europe, announced Tuesday it will turn down the noise and limit its pollution in one of the world’s most densely populated areas.

The move immediately received plaudits from environmentalists but not from its biggest customer – KLM national airlines.

With its plans, the airport will phase out all traffic between midnight and 5 a.m., ban private jets and the nosiest planes and abandon a project for an additional runway.

“We have thought about growth but too little about its impact for too long. We need to be sustainable for our employees, the local environment and the world,” said Ruud Sondag, CEO of the Schiphol Group. “The only way forward is to become quieter and cleaner more rapidly. We have thought about growth but too little about its impact for too long. We need to be sustainable,” Sondag said.

The plans should kick in no later that the 2025-2026 season.

The environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the move. “Finally, they seem to turn the tide,” said its air transport expert Maarten de Zeeuw, especially lauding the ban on private jets.

“We are happy that Schiphol is listening,” De Zeeuw said. The group said that even if other European airports had nighttime flying limits, Schiphol would be the first major one on the continent to ban polluting private planes.

KLM was less enthusiastic, complaining that it wasn’t more closely consulted over the decision. “We are astonished that Schiphol is unilaterally putting forward proposals that will have far-reaching consequences for airlines, without involving the industry parties in this process,” it said in a statement.

Last summer, the Dutch government already decided to cut the maximum number of flights allowed each year in an attempt to reduce noise and air pollution.

The decision — expected to take effect late in the year — would cut the number of flights allowed from around 500,000 to 440,000.

Schiphol, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, has been growing for years and has become one of the busiest European hubs and a significant driver of economic growth in the Netherlands.

But the government also wants to cut emissions of carbon and other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, forcing the scaling down of flights.

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Casert reported from Brussels

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