airport night
There is still time to register opinions over this proposal, says ZERO

Environmentalists fight opaque plan to increase nighttime flights over Lisbon

ZERO cites “very negative socio environmental impacts”

But what DOES the proposal really mean?

This is the big question. 

Back in August it became clear that NAV, Portugal’s air traffic control company, wanted to extend the schedule of nighttime flights in Lisbon “due to the implementation of the new Top Sky control system”.

Notice for ‘consultation of interested parties’ was duly published to start the procedure “to approve an ordinance allowing for an exceptional regime concerning the operation of aircraft at Lisbon airport”.

At the time, it appeared that the night flights would be extended from October 18 to November 29. 

It was not a situation of increasing flights over the capital, more a case of ‘distributing flights over more hours’, a source assured.

Environmental association ZERO has nonetheless delivered a “vehemently negative” opinion, stressing the “very negative socio environmental impacts” on populations within Lisbon and Loures. 

ZERO stresses that words are all very well, but they have a habit of falling through large cracks. Legally-defined noise thresholds are constantly exceeded as it is; what is to say that an exceptional regime might not become permanent, particularly as the current ‘regime’ in place over the number of nighttime flights “is not being complied with”?

As today’s reports explain, public consultation on this proposal runs until Tuesday (October 4). ZERO hopes as many citizens as possible will register their opinions between now and then – reinforcing the fact that nighttime noise “constitutes a strong disturbance in quality of life, causing cardiovascular disease, stress, reduced learning ability in children, cognitive deficit in adults among other disorders and pathologies”. 

At various points in the last three years, ZERO has measured noise levels in the areas around the airport and found them to be “very much above” those recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Around 150,000 citizens are thus affected by unhealthy and illegal noise levels when many airports in Europe have banned nighttime flights altogether, says the association, returning to its main point that legally-established limits (on both noise and nighttime flights over the capital) are not being adhered to.

In the six nighttime hours (between midnight and 6am), there is “reiterated and flagrant violation of limits” – translating into roughly 50% MORE nighttime flights than there should be, says ZERO.

This exceptional regime, in other words, could open the floodgates – or, in the association’s own words “prefigure connivance by authorities with illegality and gross negligence towards affected populations”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com