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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 00:55 GMT
Belgium scraps night-flight ban

Plane DHL said 6,000 jobs would have been at risk


By Europe correspondent Angus Roxburgh

The Belgian Government has withdrawn a controversial decree which would have banned night-time flights at Brussels airport to combat noise pollution.

The move had been opposed by the huge international courier firm, DHL, which had threatened to remove its multi-million dollar business from Brussels.

The proposal to ban night flights at Brussels airport had been welcomed by environmentalists and by the people living under the flight path.

But it was made by a Green Party transport minister and took even her colleagues in the Belgian Government by surprise.

Working group

The uproar was compounded when DHL, which bases dozens of aircraft at Brussels airport, threatened to abandon it as its main European hub if the ban went ahead.

Now the government has backed down from a proposal which environmentalists had hoped might persuade other noisy airports in Europe to follow suit.

The cabinet has decided to set up a working group to look into the problem of airport noise and report back within three weeks.

The aim, a statement said, was to develop a global and balanced approach, integrating economic, social and environmental factors.

But environmentalists may see this as tantamount to caving in to big business, putting its interests ahead of ordinary citizens.

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04 Jan 00 |  Europe
Belgium to cut airport volume

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