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Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Oostvaardersplassen are a unique nature zone near Almere and Lelystad in The Netherlands, made very popular by the astonishing nature film “The New Wilderness”. Consequently, it’s time to destroy it!

I really love walking in nature, as it brings a time of peace and quiet after a busy week of working. I watch the animals do what they do every day and I listen to the various sounds of nature. This is the reason that I try to make a walk every week, with my wife and children, in one of the many rural areas and nature zones around Almere in The Netherlands. 

Oostvaardersplassen between Almere and Lelystad
The Netherlands
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
My favorite destination are the Oostvaardersplassen: a large, 5600 hectare nature zone between Almere and Lelystad. This huge mixture of morass and dry land emerged, after the land  which eventually became the province of Flevoland  had been impoldered between the Thirties and the Sixties of last century and after the cities Lelystad and Almere had been built.

Koniks horse at the Oostvaardersplassen
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
The Oostvaardersplassen are a place where large grazing animals (a.o. Koniks horses, Heck cows and deers), foxes and numerous (sometimes rare) species of birds have found a permanent home. These animals have ample space to live, without disturbance and human interference.  If you want to see foxes and deers or even a sea eagle in a ‘real life’ situation, the Oostvaardersplassen are the place to be.

The amazing wetlands at the Oostvaardersplassen
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
How amazing the new wilderness at the Oostvaardersplassen is, became shockingly clear in an astonishing nature film, applicably called “The New Wilderness” (for more information please look here). 

Since then, the small, publicly accessible zones of the Oostvaardersplassen have been flooded with ‘daytrippers’ and nature-lovers, who want to grasp this phenomena themselves. Fortunately, they can do so, without really disturbing the animals that are spread over the vast, non-publicly accessible terrain. And (as you can see on the pictures) many animals take a curious peak at the weekly flood of visitors every now and then, when these people enter into their territory.

One of the many deers at the Oostvaardersplassen
The Netherlands
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
Although the Oostvaardersplassen are definitely a park created-by-man in a very densely populated country, and although the large grazing animals have been released there by the same humans, nature looks as real as it can be in this park. Almost everybody in The Netherlands agrees that something amazing has emerged there ‘by coincidence’, near Lelystad and Almere.

One of the many kinds of fungae that
can be found at the Oostvaardersplassen
The Netherlands
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
That is everybody…, except for the mayor and aldermen of the city of Lelystad, the executive management of Schiphol airport and a few officials in The Hague.

These people want to carry through the wretched plan to turn the small and sleepy, local airport of Lelystad into a branch airport of Schiphol. This branch airport should specialize at handling the about four million charter passengers per year, which do now land and take off at Schiphol itself.

When this doomed plan would be carried out, it would supply new room for growth to Schiphol, in its development as a ‘mainport’ that specializes in handling the transit traffickers from all around the globe.

The following article comes from Het Financieel Dagblad (FD):

State secretary Wilma Mansveld of Aviation hopes that pricefighters like Ryanair will come to Lelystad Airport in the near future.This was disclosed by answers on parliamentary questions by MP Attje Kuiken of the PvdA (Dutch labour party). 

This year, Dutch politics stands before the decision to further develop Lelystad Airport, which should serve as an overflow for Schiphol airport: this mainport has reached its maximum of 510,000 flight movements per year. 

However, Ryanair – one of the biggest airliners within Europe – has recently applied for slots at Schiphol itself. At the time that Ryanair has established its business at Schiphol, it cannot be forced anymore to move to Lelystad Airport. 

On top of that, Ryanair is now aiming at business travelers, which go first at Schiphol. This development could erode the position of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), which hardly meets break-even currently in its European operation.

The development of Lelystad Airport is watched Argus-eyed by the airliners and Dutch politics. The political parties in the Second Chamber of Dutch parliament have fears that Lelystad will eventually turn into a ghost airport without notable air traffic, comparable with the many ghost airports in Spain and Germany.

State secretary Mansveld sticks to the agreements that have been made earlier, with respect to the growth of Schiphol. She states that there will only be excess capacity in the Randstad [the 'city of cities' between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht in the west of The Netherlands – EL] when there is no growth at all in The Netherlands.

Schiphol, owner of Lelystad Airport, is currently working upon an operations plan for Lelystad. The capacity of Schiphol cannot be used in full, due to the strict benchmarks for noise pollution. Therefore a new airport should be established to enable the desired growth.

Of course everybody in The Hague and at Schiphol now thinks only about the economic implications of the Schiphol and Lelystad Airport combination. In the past, politics in The Netherlands developed the idea that Schiphol should become a mainport, which should compete with larger airports like Orly in Paris, Heathrow in London and Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

Such a mainport does indeed yield tens of thousands of jobs and it spurs economic growth in The Netherlands: things that I can’t and won’t deny. And Schiphol has been very succesful in the recent past from a commercial point of view, although the yields coming from flying itself have been rather disappointing

Nevertheless, at this moment we are in the middle(!) of the biggest economic crisis in 70 years. Currently, it seems that there is overcapacity at Schiphol already, although the growth rates for passenger transport looked slightly better than the annual data for cargo transport.

Besides that, it is inevitable that the noise pollution, coming from the about 16,000 slots which are necessary to host 4 million passengers annually, will hurt the unique nature zone The Oostvaardersplassen and the many other nature areas in this new, but very lively province.

This becomes clear when you take a look at a map on which the take off and landing routes have been drawn:

Future approach and departure lanes of Lelystad Airport
Picture courtesy of
Click to enlarge
Why then would The Hague and Schiphol carry through the establishment of another commercial airport in Lelystad anyway?!  

Why would they force the charter airliners to fly to and from Lelystad, in order to achieve more capacity for Schiphol, for which is probably hardly any demand at this very moment?!

This is not governmental wisdom from Schiphol, the politicians in The Hague and the mayor and aldermen of Lelystad, but governmental vandalism! 

This plan could ruin one of the most unique nature areas in Europe, by polluting it with the noise and the exhaust of maximally 45 airplanes per day. And if these 4 million passengers won't come to Lelystad annually after all, it is money thrown in the wind. 

Either way: this is the reason that this insanity should stop immediately. 

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