Here is a bizarre story coming out of the Netherlands involving aircraft, wildlife and insane court rulings. Martijn Moret has reported a story (the actual article is written in Dutch) on his blog about a court case involving 2 private pilots in 2 single engine aircraft who crossed the Oostvaardersplassen at 1500 feet which according to the official VFR map along with Dutch aviation legislation, is completely legal. In fact, 1,500 feet in this area is actually the maximum altitude due to Schiphol Airport being in the vicinity; but the area is also a wildlife reserve and hence, the minimum altitude is also 1,000 feet.
Apparently, wildlife rangers in the area issued a complaint claiming the pilots were violating the law on disturbing wildlife in the area while the pilots claimed they were following all local rules along with aviation legislation. Martijn then relates what happened next:
The judge(s) ruled that although the pilots were following all aviation regulations, they had still violated the law on disturbing wildlife, and convicted them to EUR 250,- each. Also, this offence is a marked as a crime, which means the 2 now have a police record. The court did not feel responsible for the contradicting legislation and called for government to change this. The pilots will appeal the ruling.
Martijn notes that the Netherlands has 11 airports and 162 nature areas and that all of aviation is subject to plant and wildlife legislation – even when it contradicts aviation law.
So remember: If you are flying over the Netherlands and do not want to be subject to legal action for disturbing the wildlife, please turn off your aircraft’s engines!