Noise abatement procedures neglected

At Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, noise abatement procedures that were set up before its launch, in cooperation with the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), are no longer respected. The eastern corridor 03R to be avoided is the main off-landing runway. The hours of common silence from 15:00 to 18:00 and 23:00 – 07:00 are violated especially during the summer. Planes also fly at a low height above the main residential area and from the bigger schools of the city of Artemis.

Athens Airport has a permanent noise monitoring system, consisting of a network of ten (10) permanent terminals (NMT), a mobile station and a central unit with software for data collection, processing and storage. We do not know if checking compliance with Noise Reduction Procedures is done. Unfortunately, the Greek State does not have any noise control equipment of its own and is limited to the data provided by the airport for that purpose, i.e. the auditee.

The airport provides only the Lden and Lnight noise levels for the nine measuring stations operated by its company, with the Lden average of about 67-68 dB and Lnight about 60-61 dB. Information on R2 studies is only partially available. For this reason, and due to the economic crisis, a total reduction in noise levels was found in 2011 compared to 2006 for all affected areas.

False claims of the airport

The airport claims that there are no sections of the population exposed to noise levels above 65 dB (A) for Lden and 55 dB (A) for Lnight, but this is false and this is confirmed by data from German-certified machinery which belong to Panhellenic Association ‘Environmental Harmony’.

The fact that, according to the most recent report submitted by the airport authority, there was only a noise complaint in March 2015, is not evidence of the reduced impact of the airport on the surrounding area. The special telephone line ‘We hear you’ of Eleftherios Venizelos, where citizens can call for information, reports and complaints related to noise is under-exploited and when citizens are addressed there to report incidents and complain the answering employee speaks to them dexterously and often closes the phone to them.

Previously, there have been complaints about public participation in the development of the NAP for Athens Airport. In March 2009, the Prefecture of Eastern Attica, within which the airport is located, sent comments to the Ministry of Environment, Planning and Public Works indicating that for the NAP the only knowledge they received was by posting a notice on the Ministry’s website. The Prefecture claimed that there was no consultation with stakeholders (local residents and local authorities) in the process of developing SNM and NAP.

Public consultation on the management of activities in the region and on the negotiation of the modification of the concession agreement of Athens Airport and the extension of its power, did not take place in the summer of 2016 but the responsibility this time was of our Municipal Authority and the Government.

Reports based on the results of the NAP implementation are submitted to the competent authorities (e.g. Ministry of the Environment, Civil Aviation Authority) on a monthly and semi-annual basis from the airport. However, noise information as well as measurement results are given to the local community through the ‘Environmental Care’ form, which is also issued by the airport company, but that was in the past.

European Noise Directive not institutionalized

The first noise mapping study by Mr. Konstantinos Vogiatzis in 2007-8 was consulted, but the suggestion of the inter-ministerial commission that evaluated it and called for action plans and measures to protect the affected citizens was never implemented. As for air noise issues and specific additional indicators provided for in Directive 2002/49 / EC, they have not yet been institutionalized and have not been incorporated into Greek national legislation. In the 2nd 2011-12 study there was no public consultation at all, on the grounds that the airport had no mobility due to the economic crisis. Please note that the studies where paid by the airport, that is, the auditee himself is essentially an auditor!

The inhabitants of the city of Artemis, which receives the biggest nuisance from the airport, have complained about the violations in the operation of the airport, among others, at the Council of the Municipal Unity of the Municipality of Spata- Artemis. The Council decided to participate with a civil society delegation in a meeting with airport representatives for the cooperation and the harmonious coexistence of an airport and residents, but the International Airport refuses to accept the Councilors and the citizens, claiming that the applicants to the meeting have a bad faith and are graphic.

No cooperation from the municipality

Although written complaints have also been made to the Mayor of Spata-Artemis itself by our Association and the Association of Associations of the region, asking for the Municipality’s assistance for recourse to legal remedies, he never responded and refused to assist in the struggle of the residents. He believes that bringing civilians to courts to set air noise limits and taking measures to protect the health of affected citizens weakens the City’s claim for financial compensation. He also disregarded the document of the Law Firm, which he has hired for the above purpose, which indicates to him that since the complaints by a member of the Municipal Unity are true, there is a serious violation of Community and National Legislation and the Law firm accepts to take the case to National and European Courts against the Administration of the Airport.

The only one who is at the side of the citizens on the matter is the ombudsman, who during the mediation procedure with his letter dated 11/4/2016, to the Environmental Inspectorate for Energy & Minerals Construction, denounces the significant Aerodrome degrading findings (noise, air pollution, floods, soil pollution, etc.). Inspectors have replied that the Audit Office has not carried out a new autopsy at the airport since 23/6/2004!

For all the above reasons and because there is no statutory legal framework for air noise (based on the specific indicators of European directive EO 49/2002), but only in the environmental noise, we are asking our country to be forced to set air noise limits and to establish a participatory and monitoring system, imposing penalties on offenders and making use of protection measures against the impact of aerodromes. In support of our allegations, we attach documents on the subject.

Emfietzi Eleftheria

Nurse MSc as Public Health Officer,
Councilor of the Municipal Unity of the Municipality of Spata- Artemis,
Member of the Board of the Panhellenic Association for Environmental Impact of Aircraft Operation “ENVIRONMENTAL HARMONY”,
Member of the Board of UECNA