noise pollution threatens to close the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The airport is located in the heart of Europe's most densely populated region, an urban sprawl stretching from Amsterdam through The Hague to Rotterdam. Amsterdam's air traffic has almost doubled since 1990 and is up 11 per cent this year alone, causing the airport to crash through its legal noise-pollution limits. Airport authorities have responded by bringing down the number of flights at night from October 2. "You can't sleep with your windows open or go out in the garden because of the aeroplanes," complains Leo Mesman, a member of the Haarlemmermeer Municipal Council. Some 200,000 complaints about aircraft noise are expected to be lodged this year on a telephone hotline -- up from 135,000 in 1994.
"This is the first time an airport must clamp down not for capacity constraints, but because of noise," says Hans Knuvers, secretary general of the Air Airport Transport Association, Netherlands. Experts feel that reducing the air traffic could lead to a serious economic fallout. Schiphol generates an estimated two per cent of the Dutch gross domestic product. Ironically, in the past two decades, six different magazines had named Schiphol the best airport in the world.
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