29th March, 2016
AEF responded to a European Commission consultation on the Environmental Noise Directive (END), highlighting that the European legislation had improved noise monitoring but that the Directive should be strengthened to enable it to achieve its aim to reduce the health burden of noise.
The END came into force in 2002 with the aim of protecting EU citizens from the harmful effects of noise. The legislation followed the WHO’s 1999 community noise guidelines which highlighted the health effects of environmental noise (noise from industry and from transport sources, such as road, rail and aviation). The END requires member states of the EU to identify and map noise sources, including airports which are large or close to built up areas. It also requires member states to produce action plans to reduce ‘excessive’ noise levels.
The consultation was part of the European Commission’s evaluation of the END which considered its effectiveness and whether EU noise policy should be adapted.
AEF believes that the END has helped to establish noise as a major public health issue that needs to be tackled, with the mapping requirement helping to improve awareness of the noise problem around the UK’s airports.
However, we believe the Directive should explicitly outline noise levels (limit values) that should be met in order to reduce the health burden from noise. These noise levels should be in line with WHO recommendations and set out in the END. We believe that noise action plans should be assessed in terms of how effectively they contribute to reducing noise towards health-based levels.
Finally, we believe that the END’s objective “to preserve environmental noise quality where it is good” is not currently being effectively delivered and the protection of rural quiet areas should become a stronger priority for noise action plans.
Further details of our comments are provided in the link below.
The consultation closed on the 28th March.