People about Airport Twente
VTM supports compact airport in a green environment
After what many felt were endless procedures and studies, the Vliegwiel Maatschappij Twente recommended that the site of the former Twente airbase be developed into a compact airport in a green environment. According to alderman Eric Helder, this is the first but nonetheless crucial step towards closing this exceptionally complex dossier. “The proposal will be reviewed by the Provincial Executive of Overijssel and the mayor and aldermen of Enschede and Dinkelland before the summer. A review by both municipal councils and Provincial Council, and possibly the house of representatives as well, will follow in the autumn.” He is confident that these decisions will, thanks to the thorough and in-depth preparations, be taken in a well-considered manner. This could pave the way for the launch of the tendering procedure for the development of the airport and the detailing of the plans. “Naturally, an airport decision still needs to be taken by the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.”
Few cases have enjoyed such a thorough procedure in the preparations towards the decision-making process as the plans for the future of the Twente airport site. The ‘Vliegwiel Maatschappij Twente’ (in which the national government, the province and the municipality of Enschede participate) developed four plans; two with and two without an airport. For the site without an airport, a third variant was drafted by a citizen’s initiative (‘Stichting Alternatieven’). The plan for developing the region without an airport, based on the development of care, health and wellness, was ultimately abandoned in favour of the variant with a compact airport in a green environment.
Eric Helder is particularly pleased with the thoroughness of this study. We drew up two comprehensive spatial development strategies, both of which we had assessed in terms of environmental, economic and financial effects. The two first facets weighed 40% each, and the financial effects 20%.
“It is not surprising that plan A (care, health en wellness) scores better than the compact airport in terms of the environment. This is more than counterbalanced by the economic effects and the large differences between the plans on the subject of employment.” The two variants show little difference in financial terms. The health, care and wellness variant has a land value of some 25 million euro; the variant with an airport some 5 million more.” A condition for this is that the national government bears some or all of the costs for soil remediation and the clearance of non-detonated munitions. “We still have a lot of negotiating to do with The Hague in that regard.”
The variant proposed (and assessed) by the VMT provides for the establishment of an aviation-related sector. This will entail not only the maintenance of the aircraft and the training of technical personnel (for which companies have already shown interest), but also industrial businesses and service providers that are largely dependent on air traffic. “We still need to consult with the Province on the practical implementation, because of the - justified - concern about the proliferation of business parks. We also want to guard against leeching business from other municipalities around Twente.”
It goes without saying that a site without and airport will cause less noise pollution than a variant with air traffic. But on that issue, too, Eric Helde is able to reassure the residents of Oldenzaal and Hengelo. “We’ve had the noise contours assessed and were able to conclude that the noise contour can be reduced to about a quarter of the military noise contour.” This contour is adequate if the number of passengers grows from 1.2 million per year to 2.4 million. We will remain a compact airport, which cannot be compared to airports such as Schiphol.”
Activities will be concentrated on the northern side of the site, making access from the A1 motorway relatively simple. “We want to start with the access via the existing road near Frans op ’n Bult (Vliegveldstraat) from where we intend to create a new access point to the site. The aim is to create an exit from the A1 as well in due course. Whether this will result in the disappearance of another exit or whether we will opt for parallel lanes with three exits is not yet clear. “The Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management is an important partner in the development of these plans.”
Because of the concentration on the northern side of the site, the plans also span the area up to the Dinkelland municipal region.
National ecological network
Because of the desire - in both cases - to develop a well balanced plan, the compact airport variant will also devote a great deal of attention to the environment. Space is available for nature on both the northern and, in particular, the southern side of the runway. This forms part of the national ecological network.
The plans in terms of health, care and wellness cannot be shelved completely, according to Eric Helder. “Besides housing and recreation, the site also offers more than enough space for a ‘Kurort’ or institution along the lines of convalescence or wellness.”
Source: VIT Newsletter July 2009
Text: Niko Wind
Photo: Willem van Wanderveen.