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Swiss and Germans seal Zurich airport noise deal

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Swiss and Germans seal Zurich airport noise deal
Roger Price, www.antwerpenr.com
11:49 CEST+02:00

Switzerland and Germany have finally reached an agreement aimed at restricting noise pollution from flights to Zurich airport.

Switzerland has agreed that evening flights arriving at Zurich airport will fly over Swiss soil three hours earlier than is currently the case.

In return, Germany has agreed not to insist on restricting the number of flights that can fly over its territory before landing at the airport, online news site 20 Minuten reported.

Doris Leuthard, the transport minister, has said she is pleased with the compromise, but it seems she might be the only one.

“I would have liked a better solution,” Christian People’s Party councillor Brigitte Häberli-Koller told the website.

National Councillor Hans Killer for the Swiss People’s Party in canton Aargau is also concerned.

“Germany has calm in the evenings, we have noise,” he said.

Other politicians have threatened to call a referendum on the agreement.

“This is not a compromise, but a total surrender from Switzerland, under pressure from Germany," National Councillor for the Social Democrats, Thomas Hardegger told the website.

“For me, the contract cannot be approved and we will defend ourselves by all means, if necessary by calling a referendum,” he said.

The operators of Zurich airport have shown themselves to be more understanding of the negotiated settlement.

“It is a compromise in which both sides have made concessions. The solution means that future development of the airport is possible," airport spokesperson Sonja Zöchling said.

Germany imposed restrictions on some flights to the Swiss hub close to its border in 2003 after complaints from locals, clouding relations with its neighbour.

Since Germany restricted flights over its territory, planes have been forced to fly over highly populated areas south and east of Zurich.

Berlin acted after the Swiss refused to ratify an accord on the number of planes landing and taking off from the airport, whose flight path is about 20 kilometres from the German border.

In 2010 Switzerland took the row to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that the German measures were proportionate.

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