Overall, the air quality in the Netherlands is ranked good to moderate according to aqicn.org. The data is collected from the World Air Quality Index whose mission is to create more awareness surrounding worldwide air quality. The statistics are updated frequently therefore it is possible that there may be small deviations from the data presented in this text to the current air quality levels. But every day there is a timelapse where the air is unhealthy. When looking at the data presented from mid-January it is evident that the air quality levels in Hoofddorp, Haarlemmermeer are far worse than that in the rest of the Netherlands. Hoofddorp is located in the north of Holland approximately 8.5km from Schipol airport.
When looking at the Air Quality Index Scale and color legend of the AQICN can conclude that the area of Hoofddorp, which is next to the airport Schiphol falls in the air pollution level: 201-300 very unhealthy, according to the World Air Quality Index a satisfactory AQI level is at or below 100. The air quality level of Hoofddorp is placed in the purple category which states that the health implications corresponding with this air pollution level affect the entire population. This results in the advice that active children and adults with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion: everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion .
Research of Milieudefensie shows that air traffic at Schiphol leads to increased concentrations of ultrafine particles in areas around the airport. Especially planes taking off emit a huge amount of particles, the same amount as 1 million trucks. This leads to residents living near Schiphol to health damage and premature death. For the few thousand households in Amstelveen and Amsterdam, which are most affected by the air pollution from Schiphol (up to 40,000 ultrafine particles extra per cm3), the average loss in life expectancy is more than one year. The data shows that around 10,000 people are living in this highly exposed neighborhood. For 44,000 people the ultrafine particles lead to a loss of life expectancy 3.8 to 7.7 months. And for another 88,000 people the exposure leads to a loss of life expectancy of 1.9 to 3.8 months. In total the loss of life for all these people comes to 35,000 to 70,000 years. In addition to premature death, these people will also experience more and more serious health problems during their lifetime. The data provided here are only the effects of air pollution at Schiphol. So on top of this these people will also experience health effects of air pollution from road traffic and the industry. .
Along with the issues caused by air pollution from traffic in the town and from Schipol airport, there are also major problems surrounding noise pollution in the area. Citizens complain about the noise pollution caused by Schipol airport to the Bewoners Aanspreekpunt Schiphol (BAS), standing for Citizens point of contact Schiphol. In 2019 there were 120,000 complaints registered regarding these issues .
The airport’s transport movement has decreased due to covid. With an air transport movement ceiling of 500,000 for 2020, the reality showed 272,588 movements, drastically reducing the expected night flights, decreasing the amount of noise output from the airport. In general we see noise complaints decrease for 2020, but again this may be mainly due to Covid altering the airport’s activities.
Despite the negative externalities with regards to health effects and noise pollution, Schiphol airport is continuing to expand. Between the years 2011 and 2019, the airport’s flight movements saw a growth of 13.7% (Schiphol, 2020). As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic flight movements worldwide have decreased dramatically, therefore we decided to exclude statistics from 2020 onwards as they do not reflect the usual pattern of growth. The minister for infrastructure and water management in the Netherlands has agreed on an annual growth rate of 1-1.5% for the airport's air traffic up until the year 2050. This would mean that the flights could grow towards 800.000 flight movements in 2050. .
The future of Schiphol airport is extremely topical in the Netherlands. As a result of increased protests from the locals the airport reached an agreement in 2008 with both local residents and institutional bodies that the airport would allow a maximum of 500,000 flights until 2020 however, that figure was reached in 2018, creating increased tensions and upset amongst locals and environmental groups .
Greenpeace, an environmental activist organization, arranged for there to be a protest held at Schiphol Airport in December of 2019. The organization had been granted permission to hold the protest outside of the airport only; however, the group rejected this as they argued that citizens' rights to peaceful protest should not be restricted . Hundreds of protesters attended the event with the aim to pressure the International Air Hub to reduce the greenhouse emissions from the airport. Protesters held signs with slogans such as “tax the plane, take the train” and “Schiphol airport is one of the biggest airports in Europe and yet they still want to expand it, that's not normal” After many warnings to leave the airport the police began to remove protesters from the airport one by one and forcefully to those who would not leave . As a result of the 2019 protest, the Dutch government has said that they do have a plan on how they will reduce emissions and how they are starting by cutting emissions on the ground by using electric vehicles. But Greenpeace is not the only environmental group that called protests on the Schiphol airport, others like The Extinction Rebellion have. Between these groups, also farmers are included that protested against some governmental solutions for nitrogen pollution, that included the buy out of agricultural landowners because of the airport’s activity [8;9].