In order to implement the requirements set out in the legislation, Lithuanian Airports have started to prepare prospective noise maps, on the basis of which noise protection zones (TAZs) will be established for Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga International Airports. This will enable residents, medical, educational and recreational establishments located closest to the airports to receive compensation for their expenditure on noise abatement measures.
"The establishment of noise protection zones is an important issue for sustainable urban development and for the population, and is also an issue that is mandated by the legislation in force. This will be the first time since the restoration of Lithuania's independence that decisions in this area will be implemented. We will follow the methodology set out in the legislation, which has been developed in line with international practice, and use certified tools. All relevant information will be easily accessible online and in person, so that all persons entitled to compensation can use it," says Kristina Greičiūtė, Head of Environmental Protection at Lithuanian Airports.
The identification of TAZs is carried out by Lithuanian Airports in accordance with the requirements of the Law on Special Land Use Conditions, the Law on Noise Management and the Law on Aviation, as well as in implementation of the Government Resolution "On the Approval of the Rules for the Preparation, Harmonization, Approval, Publication of the Prospective Noise Maps and the Rules for the Reimbursement of the Costs of the Implementation of the Measures to Reduce the Noise". The Ministry of Transport and Communications will approve the prospective noise maps.
Lithuanian Airports estimates that up to EUR 5 million may be allocated for compensation for noise abatement measures by 2052, when the requirements of the above-mentioned legislation are implemented. Persons whose buildings/facilities fall within the boundaries of the prospective noise maps would be eligible for compensation. Under the envisaged procedure, compensation will be granted to owners and/or trustees of residential, recreational, medical, general education, vocational, higher education, kindergartens, nurseries, and educational buildings (premises) intended for educational purposes and non-formal education. This will encourage persons to install noise abatement measures in residential, recreational, educational and therapeutic buildings to minimise the adverse effects of noise.
"Unfortunately, it has been a historical situation that, due to the flawed legal regulation that was in force in the past, for a long time Lithuanian residents were allowed to build relatively close to large infrastructure facilities, including airports. This has led to a number of dwellings being located in areas with higher noise levels due to industrial and other activities. We estimate that there may be around 850 households in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga alone that may fall within the TAZ boundaries near airports", says Greičiūtė.
Applications for compensation for noise abatement measures in buildings/premises for these uses can be submitted no later than 3 years from the date of the public publication of the prospective noise maps, and compensation will be paid to the applicants no later than 3 years from the date of the approval of the applications.
It is foreseen that reimbursement will be available for the purchase and installation of noise-insulating windows, noise insulation of roofs and external walls of buildings (separating indoors from outdoors), installation of noise-reducing ventilation systems, etc.
On the initiative of Lithuanian Airports, an information subpage has already been created on the website, which will contain all the relevant information on the prospective noise maps, the approved TAZs, the compensation mechanism, and other information related to this project.
According to the Head of Environmental Protection of Lithuanian Airports, the establishment of TAZs is an important step not only to improve the quality of life of the population and the environment, but also to draw more attention to the development of urban and residential areas in areas such as the vicinity of airports. It is foreseen that the development of residential, recreational, medical and scientific buildings will be restricted in the TAZ areas around Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports, while the construction of hotels, administrative, commercial, service, transport, manufacturing, industrial, garages, warehouses, special purpose, sports, other (auxiliary farm or other) real estate objects will remain possible.