Environmental Permit Brussels Airport

The environmental permit for the operation of the airport is up for renewal. That is why Brussels Airport Company submitted the renewal application. With a view to the renewal, independent experts have assessed the environmental impact of the airport.

Why does Brussels Airport need to renew its environmental permit?

The current environmental permit for the operation of Brussels Airport is valid until 8 July 2024. The new environmental permit is granted by the Flemish Government. The application relates solely to the renewal of the environmental permit for the current activities and airport infrastructure. Brussels Airport Company is not requesting an expansion of its runway capacity or additional night slots.

The renewal of the permit is essential to guarantee Brussels Airport’s role as economic growth engine. Its renewal will allow us to continue to provide smooth air traffic for the many holidaymakers and business travellers, as well as for the companies active in import and export. It is our priority to protect both the 24,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs the airport provides and the quality of the environment.

Why this ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’?

Brussels Airport has decided to have an EIA drawn up by independent experts to examine the effects of the airport activities. It did so on its own initiative and in full transparency because sustainability is central to the airport's strategy.

What are the next steps?

On 30 November 2023, the Flemish government declared the Brussels Airport environmental permit renewal file complete and admissible. From 10 December till 08 January, the public enquiry took place. The Environment Department coordinated the public information moment (digital information session) in cooperation with the four municipalities of Zaventem, Machelen, Steenokkerzeel and Kortenberg. On 14 December 2023 a digital information session took place for interested parties.

After advice from the Regional Environmental Permit Committee, it is ultimately the Flemish minister of Justice and Enforcement, Environment, Energy and Tourism who decides on the environmental permit.

What is Brussels Airport doing to reduce its impact on the surrounding area?

For Brussels Airport, sustainable growth, with attention to the socio-economic role of the airport and the environment, is very important. For years, the airport has been taking action to limit the environmental impact and will continue to focus strongly on this in the coming years. Sustainability is also one of the three pillars of the airport's future strategy (Shift 2027).

With strong noise-based differentiation (currently x3) in airport charges, Brussels Airport has encouraged airlines since 2016 to deploy more modern, and therefore quieter and cleaner, aircraft. This has already resulted in the fact that today 1 in 3 flights are carried out with the most modern aircraft. As of April this year, new tariffs will apply that not only are even more differentiated (up to x20), but which will also take account of nitrogen emissions. Regarding ground noise, efforts being made include, for example, single engine taxiing, the introduction of electrical ground handling equipment and the supply of power to the gates, so that the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit can be switched off quicker.

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) have been available at Brussels Airport since 1 January and we are now looking at how we can advocate both the collection of used cooking oils for the production of SAF as well as the use of SAF. Brussels Airport is also strongly committed to improving multimodal accessibility in the entire region and achieving a modal shift. For example, in the past two years, Brussels Airport saw the arrival of the Ringtrambus and the Flibco bus services, as well as the connection to the F3 cycle highway. In a few years' time, the airport will also be connected to the tram network and further efforts will be made on cycling infrastructure and alternatives, such as carpooling and car sharing for staff.

Thanks to investments in renewable energy, Brussels Airport has been CO2 neutral for its own operations since 2018. We are now working hard to completely eliminate carbon emissions from our own activities by 2030. An ambition we intend to achieve by building a fossil free heating plant, continuing to invest in renewable energy (e.g. additional solar parks) and fully electrifying the company vehicle fleet. Brussels Airport is also taking the lead in innovation and development with Stargate, a project that was initiated by Brussels Airport and is co-financed by the European Commission as part of the European Green Deal, to pioneer innovations and initiatives for a sustainable future for the aviation industry in Europe.