Dutch Low-Level Flights, update November 2000

Arctic Peoples Alert has stated a petition campaign (signature lists) and is planning to give the petitions around or on February 14 2001 to the commission of defence of the Dutch parliament. February 14 is it five years ago that the last Dutch parliamental debate took place on low-level flights. We will ask for a visit to the Canadian ambassador also.

On September 12, 2000 the Dutch MP Mr Ab Harrewijn (GreenLeft party) has asked parliamental questions regarding the supersonic tests. We, as Arctic Peoples Alert (formerly called Innu Support Group Netherlands) provided him with the information on basis of which he could ask these questions.

Hereby the translation of the questions and the answers that the minister of state of Defence mr Van Hoof provided on October 20, 2000.

Answers to the written questions of Parliament member Harrewijn concerning test flights with F-16ūs over low-level flying area in Labrador and Quebec.

1. Did you give permission in advance for the performance of the supersonic test flights by Dutch F-16's?

Answer 1.
Due to the experiences in Kosovo the Royal Dutch Airforce has asked the Canadian Ministry of Defence after possibilities to perform supersonic test flights. Germany and the United Kingdom have made similar requests to the Canadian government. In response the Canadian Ministry of Defence has requested the Royal Dutch Airforce in July this year to perform with some supersonic test flights to be able to measure possible effects on the ground. These flights by the Royal Dutch Airforce have not yet taken place.

2. Were you aware that these test flights would be in violation of the recommendations of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of 1994?

Answer 2.
The Canadian government is responsible for making sure activities are in accordance with the EIS. This is why the Royal Dutch Airforce has asked the Canadian Ministry of Defence after possibilities to perform supersonic test flights.

3. Has the intention to perform these tests been discussed with the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research, in which Innu Nation also is participating? If not, why not?

Answer 3.
The Canadian Ministry of Defence is partner in the discussions with the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research. It is not known to me if the request to perform supersonic test flights has actually been discussed in this forum.

4. Was the Dutch State again summoned in court by the Innu Nation concerning an 'interim injunction application'?

Answer 4.
This is not known to me.

5. Is it true that the supersonic test flights are postponed until July 2001? If so, does the government have the intent to co-operate again with the performance of the test flights?

Answer 5.
The Canadian Ministry of Defence has postponed the possible performance of test flights until July 2001. The operational desirability of the possibility to perform test flights is undisputed. It is to the Canadian government to decide whether the flights can be performed within the limits of national rules and regulations.

6. Is the Royal Dutch Airforce involved in the discussions concerning the supersonic flights that the Canadian Ministry of Defence is planning to hold with the Innu Nation?

Answer 6.

7. Which specific risks are involved with supersonic test flights as opposed to the 'normal' risks involved with low-level flying at 30 meters altitude?

Answer 7.
There are no specific risks involved.

8. How many sorties has the Royal Dutch Airforce performed for the purpose of low-level flying in Canada since the commencement of the second low-level flying treaty in 1996?

Answer 8.
From 1996 to 2000 the Royal Dutch Airforce has performed in total 7108 sorties from the base in Goose Bay. Among these are 474 sorties at high altitude, 975 sorties at mid level altitude and 5659 at low altitude.

9. Is the Institute for Environmental Monitoring operating as desired after the initial problems?

Answer 9.
Yes, recently there has been for example a successful conference at which the President of Innu Nation has delivered a speech. At least once every three months there are talks in which representatives of the Canadian Ministry of Defence and the base at Goose Bay are involved.

10. Have complaints been filed again against Dutch pilots concerning violations? If so can you inform us on the nature and quantity of these complaints?

Answer 10.
No, as far as can be checked no complaints have been filed.

11. What are the consequences of the introduction of the possible successor of the F-16 for the test program and the low-level flying treaty with Canada? In your opinion should (in time) a new EIS be conducted and the present treaty be adjusted?

Answer 11.
The present test program of the Dutch pilots has been optimized for the F-16 and its duties. Part of this program is executed within the possibilities of the low-level flying treaty with Canada. At this time we assume that the successor of the F-16 will perform the same tasks as the F-16. A possible new EIS is the responsibility of the Canadian government.