May 2023: together with Bankwatch Network, NSC-FoE Hungary prepared a summary of how the development of Budapest Airport, which is also supported by European Investment Bank with 200 million euro loan, violates the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. We also announced this on Facebook, and an employee of Bankwatch Network presented it to the Bank's board of directors at a meeting on 2nd of May. The analysis is available in English here (pdf).
17 June 2023: Workshop on the BUD airport. All interested civilians, stakeholders were invited to a workshop about issues linked to the BUD Airport.
Summer-autumn 2023: Intensifying discussons
The workshop in June enlivened the conversations between professionals active in airport matters. Since then, several discussions have taken place. All this was further helped by the news that the state plans to buy back the ownership of the airport.
We constantly monitor news and statements related to aviation and the airport, so in mid-September we also learned that during a long-running lawsuit, the Court annulled the environmental protection permit of Ferenc Liszt International Airport, and a few days later, as a result of another lawsuit, the court annulled it the airport's anti-noise protection zone decision.
22 September 2023: Another online discussion took place with the European Investment Bank about where the implementation of the recommendations of the complaint mechanism is progressing. Participants were: members of Association for Civilised Air Transport (Kulturált Légiközlekedésért Egyesület), Friends of the Earth Hungary (MTVSZ) and Bankwatch Network. From the Bank's side, the staff of the Complaints Mechanism, the Civil Contact Office, the project administrator and the environmental protection officer of the mobility projects participated. Negotiations continue.
Our latest articles in the issue (in Hungarian language):
- Polluting airport with dirty bank deals (24th of May 2023.) (https://mtvsz.blog.hu/2023/05/24/szennyezo_repuloter_mogott_piszkos_bankugyek )
- Airport sale and purchase: damages should be settled before the purchase, not with taxpayers' money (press release 7t of September 2023.) https://mtvsz.hu/hirek/2023/09/repter-adasvetel-a-karokat-a-felvasarlas-elott-rendezzek-ne-az-adofizetok-penzebol
- Airport purchase: Stop! Money and life! (18th of September 2023.) (https://mtvsz.blog.hu/2023/09/18/repuloter_vasarlas_allj_penzt_es_eletet )
In May 2022, we requested a consultation with the European Investment Bank on the implementation of the recommendations of the Complaints Mechanism. What we learned from the consultation is that there is a designated person at the airport responsible for implementing the recommendations. Following the meeting, we sent further information on noise regulations and on the development and impact of freight traffic, as requested by the Bank.
On 15 September 2022, Budapest Airport responded to our letter (from summer) requesting a face-to-face meeting on the implementation of the recommendations of the European Investment Bank's Complaints Mechanism. No face-to-face consultation was given, and the letter goes on for several pages to discuss how the airport complies with the law, what steps it has taken in terms of social responsibility, including the extended window sealing programme, etc. We know these do not address the complaints of local residents in any meaningful way.
On 21 September 2022, cooperating with our international partner the CEE Bankwatch Network, we held a press conference near the airport, where the views of local residents were presented by Zoltán Frik and Ágnes Béres. Press background material in English and Hungarian can be downloaded here. The press event was covered FB live by Mérce , and followed by an article. After the press conference, representatives of the press and Bankwatch visited Lászlóné Csellár, where they were directly informed about the damage to the population through a live example. The Bankwatch English-language blog will be published in 2023.
On 6 October 2022, KLKE and MTVSZ sent another letter to the European Investment Bank's Civil Relations Department and Complaints Mechanism, requesting information and documents on 8 subjects:
1. environmental and social management plan (ESMP), environmental and social action plan;
2. a Stakeholders Engagement Plan (ESMP), how to map stakeholders;
3. what has been done by the investor in terms of stakeholder mapping and what complaint handling mechanism has been put in place for the project;
4. the social mitigation measures put in place, their cost already incurred and their expected cost;
5. information on whether the investor has provided updated air pollution information to the Bank and its disclosure;
6. how the "appropriate assessment of cumulative impacts" will be carried out in the light of the modification of the project content; for which project elements is the Bank requesting a preliminary environmental assessment; has it been received; what impact will the new project elements have on the airport capacity;
7. a description of the tasks of the specialist employed by the airport to implement the EIB Complaints Mechanism recommendations and a description of the work carried out to date;
8. given that Terminal 3 has been excluded from the loan but is expected to be built from other sources, whether the EIB will require the investor to submit at least a preliminary environmental assessment.
We further requested in the letter:
- the loan agreement and its amendments, in particular the project elements, the environmental and social conditions, the beneficiary's environmental disclosure obligations, the project disclosure, the accounting, the beneficiary's obligations;
- whether the loan is backed by a Hungarian State guarantee;
- the extent to which the loan is covered by the European Fund for Strategic Investments.
The European Investment Bank replied on 2 December 2022. Extracted:
- the loan agreement is in the process of being amended due to a change in the content of the project (deletion of Terminal 3 from the credit line) (Note: how can it be in the process of being amended if the amendment has already been indicated in the environmental data sheet of the project?!) A template of the environmental conditions for EIB loans has been linked.
- The Bank requires a preliminary environmental assessment for what is required by Hungarian law.
- the amendment of the environmental and social management plan and the terms of reference of the airport expert are under preparation; the former will be made public and is expected to include information on stakeholder mapping and involvement, mitigation of social impacts, noise pollution and mitigation.
- no new preliminary environmental assessment has been submitted to the Bank by the investor; the project elements covered by the loan (the revised investment package) are not expected to increase the capacity of the airport, but only to increase its operational flexibility and the energy efficiency of the infrastructure; (Note: this is misleading, as the already built Cargo City and the new passenger pier have increased the capacity of the airport...)
- on other issues, they are not in a position to provide information due to the ongoing amendment of the terms of the loan agreement, and will get back to us when the process is completed;
- the existence of the EFSI guarantee has been confirmed, the extent of the guarantee has not been specified (probably 100%).
This response is obviously unsatisfactory; e.g. it is unacceptable to bypass the assessment of cumulative effects by modifying the content of the loan package.
NEWS (17 Dec 2021): The European Investment Bank (EIB) ruled in favour of our complaint re: 200M eur airport expansion project, withhelding funds before Budapest Airport does proper environmental-social impact assessment, improve noise and air pollution mitigation plan & involve affected locals. Exlusive report by Telex here (in Hungarian, you can translate it with deepl.com for example)
In 2019, the Civilsed Air Transport Association (KLKE) approached the Friends of the Earth Hungary (MTVSZ) for help. As a result of our cooperation, in the spring of 2020 we submitted a joint formal complaint to the European Investment Bank, which is financing the Budapest airport expansion with EU public loans, to review the project and to ask the investor and the Bank to consult with the affected population and take their interests into account. The procedure is still ongoing today. In addition, we also consider it important to draw the attention of the decision-makers in Hungary involved in this matter and of the half a million or so residents of Budapest and Pest County affected by the airport congestion to urge meaningful consultations and solutions that will restore the quality of life of the residents, because the situation is untenable.
This is why we launched our "Garden city suburbs are not a runway!" programme and this information page on 11 October 2021.
In August 2021, we visited the local residents of the suburbs of Pestszentlőrinc, Erzsébettelep, Rákoshegy, Szemeretelep and Ganz-telep and summarised the situation and possible solutions in a video report (with English subtitles):
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
- Budapest airport's annual traffic was originally planned to be 6 million, now 15 million (it peaked in 2019), the project would result in 21 million Hungarian people travelling through in a year. In addition, with Cargo City planned for cargo traffic, the 150,000 tonnes of air cargo traffic per year will create additional air and noise pollution.
- Around 1 million people live in the airport's catchment area (where micro-dust concentrations from airport operations are 2-13 times normal), half a million of whom live in the worst affected zone (9 km radius), where the adverse health effects of airport-related air pollution are most likely to occur. Noise exposure also affects around half a million people, of whom around 70-80,000 are the most affected.
- The investor Budapest Airport and the Bank have not consulted the affected population in a meaningful way, have not taken their interests into account and have not provided adequate compensation/resolution so far.
AIR POLLUTION. Map below: Estimated micro-dust concentrations around Budapest Airport. Based on data measured at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands and applied to Budapest Airport based on 2018 and 2019 traffic data. Source: Association for Civil Aviation (KLKE / CATA)
NOISE POLLUTION. Noise abatement zones (sand and light blue) and EU-recommended zones (red, yellow and blue) as defined by Hungarian legislation:
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Educate and inform yourself, share our materials and videos!
- In line with our LifeAffirming campaign, think about whether a particular journey or transport is really necessary for you.
- If you need to travel far, choose a more environmentally and health-friendly means of transport (train, bus).
- Avoid ordering products online that are typically over-packed, of poor quality and perish quickly, and transported from far away (by plane or even container ship or train). Most of these are not really needed.
- When buying food, give preference to local, seasonal produce and source it from local farmers' markets, reducing the environmental impact of transporting food (for example, transporting 1 kg of Chinese garlic to Hungary produces 2.5 kg of carbon dioxide emissions).
- The reason why airfares can be low and the transport of products from far away can only be cheap compared to environmentally and health-friendly alternatives is that the significant health and environmental burden of air transport and the damage costs are passed on to the people living around the airport and factories, who pay for it by reducing their quality of life and livelihood. This is very unfair and affects the masses. Let's stand up together, assert our basic rights to a healthy environment and livelihood, sign our LifeAffirming petition: https://mtvsz.hu/eletigenlo
- If you are one of the half a million people affected by the environmental and social burden of the Budapest airport, help the cause by signing the local people's petition: https://terjed.ahang.hu/campaigns/budairport
You can also contact us at: repter(at)mtvsz.hu
For Civilsed Air Transport Association: http://kulturaltlegikozlekedesert.hu/