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ARC Position paper on the EU Ambient Air Quality Legislation plan revision

As air quality, including noise, is one of the most important problems of airport regions as they must deal with the consequences of airport activities and the mobility linked to them together with the impact of global aviation emissions, since its foundation, already 28 years ago, Airport Regions Council, together with its members, has always been, and is, committed to the improvement of the situation from angles. Therefore, ARC has participated in EU-funded projects such as D-Air and ANIMA, and at present, it is a member of OLGA project. Besides, ARC, as a member since the creation of the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Forum, continuously emphasises the importance of keeping the vision of a future clean air, including noise, at the EU level.

Last October 2022, European Commission launched the “Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe”, a new directive proposal to unify the two previous ones -2004/107/CE setting out target values for concentration levels of ambient air pollutants & 2008/80/CE setting out measures for the provision of information on and assessment of ambient air quality directives- and to modify three key aspects:

  • To set out new target values in closer alignment with the recommendations of the WHO

  • To set penalties for failure to achieve reductions or for failure to distribute public information on air quality

  • To set more support to local authorities in achieving clean air

All these aspects are vital to reducing the health impact of air pollution by 55% in 2030.

The Commission published its first Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Report on December 2022, and the outcomes show tangible progress in reducing adverse health effects related to the atmosphere compared to 2005; Nevertheless, the reduction of the number of people chronically disturbed by noise is not on track, and it has been stable since 2012, without any deduction.

According to all that, ARC will continue to be involved in the Zero Pollution stakeholders’ platform, pushing for some actions to address the noise problem and asking for a substantial reinforcement of the current noise Directive. On the other hand, ARC will closely follow the new proposal for a directive on ambient air quality, highlighting in its interventions the need to work so that said regulation affects the requirements for international coordination and the financing needs for reduction measures and control systems. ARC will be alert to scientific evidence to demand the narrowing of thresholds in 2028, but now it is urgent to approve this new proposal to improve the current situation greatly and converge with the reduction objectives by 2030.

Therefore, ARC, representing more than 70 million people:

  • Highly supports the revision of the existing legislation (Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council) on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe as the Directive was entered into force 15 years ago. It is time to harmonise it with the current policy initiatives and legal background following the significantly changed environmental challenges

  • Asks EU institutions to recognize, and therefore to pay the necessary attention, aviation noise as the main environmental problem of aviation growth together with local air quality impacts

  • Demands EU institutions to work together in order to improve the legal framework that can stimulate, facilitate and obligate to all stakeholders the application of all best practices in the fight of aviation impact

  • Considers, and therefore offers itself and its members, as the key stakeholder for all EU and national institutions and private and public stakeholders regarding the development of noise and air quality policy and projects as we, for already 28 years, have worked at the EU level to make the voice of our citizens heard and to work in a collaborative and active way to improve their quality of life at the same time that we support the development of aviation.

  • Believes that as directives need to be further regulated by Member States themselves and harmonise their national law by its provisions, it gives great opportunities for the countries to take into account their special national, regional, and local measures and metrics as well as their industry-specific background and expectations. Special actions are needed in different countries, regions, and industrial backgrounds: No one fits all!

  • Evaluates that the new WHO guidance can be good new guidance for the new EU directive for setting standards or policies.

  • Underlines that it is essential to highlight locals’ health needs and actions to protect inhabitants in the airport vicinity. ARC fully supports and underlines the importance of an enhanced air quality policy in the airport vicinity. The new legislation would need to focus on the specific players of aviation and in this way also the airport industry even in terms of health issues: locals, airport workers, and passengers as well. Also, specific provisions are needed to focus even tailored on required actions near airports, involving evidence-based metrics from local and regional status and taking into account the current level, interim targets, and recommended level.

Finally, ARC wants to state that it is ready to support and participate in the coming times all initiatives from the EU institutions and public stakeholders to improve the legislation, action plans, research, etc. to improve air quality in Europe for the goodness of all.

Position Paper on Ambient Air Quality Legislation Plan Revision
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