Why do we want that Schiphol keeps on growing? | Belicons

Why do we want that Schiphol keeps on growing?

Posted on: 
Tuesday 28 March 2017

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Why do we want that Schiphol keeps on growing?

Photographer: Fyodor Borisov

Time and again I'm surprised when people argue that Schiphol needs to keep on growing. The Netherlands is a very small country, nevertheless we want an airport that grows bigger and bigger. I cannot imagine that the Dutch economy will really get into problems if this airport doesn’t expand further.

What is the problem?

People who live in the neighbourhood of Schiphol and the airport itself make an agreement that until 2020 the airport won’t expand further than a maximum of 500.000 flights and then they should have reduced the noise nuisance by 5%. But they almost reached these 500.000 flights last year already. That means that the airport cannot expand anymore until 2020.

An aviation lawyer said in a news report of EenVandaag that it is very important that Schiphol will get enough space to expand, for it is a big stimulant for our economy and will help us to compete with other countries (Link Dutch spoken). According to him, if Schiphol doesn’t grow as fast as the market does, then airline companies will search for alternative airports and then we will have a problem.


Peiling: We zijn als Nederland niet afhankelijk van de groei van Schiphol

Peiling: We zijn als Nederland niet afhankelijk van de groei van Schiphol

Poll: The Netherlands cannot depend on the growth of Schiphol

Poll: The Netherlands cannot depend on the growth of Schiphol

Read the blog that goes with this poll https://www.belicons.nl/en/blog/schiphol-success

Body 2: 

When I hear this lawyer talking, then I immediately think about how we try to switch to renewable energy sources. Let's take a look at the comparison between the problems of Schiphol and renewable energy sources.

A comparison with climate change

In the 19th century we started to use fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) as energy source. And since then we started to use it for almost everything that needs energy and thus everything is dependent on them now. Cars have an internal combustion engine, gas stations sell fossil fuels, many stoves still use gas, etc. Moreover, many people have a job that depends on these energy sources.

They are saying now that we need to stop making use of fossil fuels, for they generate too much CO2 what heats up the earth too much. But if we do that, then we need to adapt a lot and many people who work at companies like Shell will lose their jobs.

One could think in terms of all these problems and conclude that despite the problem of climate change we have no reason than to continue as we are doing. Trump is thinking in this way too, yesterday he said that he wants to invest in the mining industry so that the people who work there won’t lose their jobs.

If people talk like this, then thinking in terms of problems seems to be the only way. But it isn’t. Leaders like Trump could also make sure that companies who are dependent on fossil fuels now transfer to alternative energy sources.
They could try to find out how they should generate energy by means of sun, water or wind and start to invest in that. They could already start to educate their employees so that a transition will be a smooth as possible.

If one thinks in terms of problems and thus continues as one is doing, then (s)he will feel good for a while, for nothing changes. But in the end we will meet our limits and then the problems are much worse. Nobody wants that.

Back to Schiphol

I recognize these ways of thinking in the way people talk about the expansion of Schiphol. The aviation lawyer in EenVandaag thinks in terms of problems: if Schiphol won’t expand, then this will have a lot of negative consequences for the Dutch economy. For that reason the airport needs to keep growing, despite that this will lead to more emission of CO2 and noise nuisance.

But a member of the Counsel Living environment & Infrastructure argued in the same broadcast of EenVandaag. She also regards Schiphol as very important to the Dutch economy. But she sees different possibilities since she is thinking in terms of solutions. She even doubts whether more flights really mean more money. According to her, Schiphol needs to think about how to limit itself. She calls for creative thinking about how to deal with Schiphol. 

That sounds interesting. I can imagine that one could make sure that the airport exceeds in other things than size; like, good service, good prices, etc. If the market keeps on growing and Schiphol doesn’t, but they make sure that it is a popular place to go, then they will make more money, since they have less costs, and the is good for the economy. So we need a broader perspective on this problem.

A broader view

And we need to realize that there is more to life than money. What the lawyer is actually saying is that we need to accept the emission of CO2 and noise nuisance for Schiphol is that important to the Dutch economy. But that raises the question wether we haven't become too dependent on Schiphol and whether we need to make sure that we also invest in other branches of industry to spread the risks. Think for example about sustainable energy, that is the branch of industry of the future!

In addition, we can ask ourselves what kind of country we would like to be. Do we want to live in a country in which the air isn’t clean? In which we need to make the dunes and dikes higher and higher because the sea level is rising. In which it’s in the end impossible to live in the neighbourhood of Schiphol? In a country that is more and more dependent on one branch of industry? In a country that... Fill out other things… Only to make sure that the economy can keep on growing.

So this discussion shouldn’t only be about the ranking of Schiphol as a very busy airport and how much money we will earn in that way. Let’s think the other way around. In what kind of country do we want to live and how does Schiphol fit into that? And let’s not say that it isn’t possible to change things, for so many things turn out to be possible if one thinks creatively enough.

Do you recognize this? What is the dominant industry in your country? Do you see ways to become less dependent on it? Or do you think that it is good to make such an industry grow further and further? Share your opinion, below, or on the forum!

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