The Environment Committee of the European Parliament will vote next week on noise limits for vehicles. The compromise proposal put forward by the lead MEP has been drafted by sports car manufacturer Porsche.
The vote, scheduled for 19 September, will set noise limits from cars, vans, trucks and buses. A so called “compromise amendment”, normally designed to balance the divided views of MEPs and supposedly drafted by the Rapporteur in the European Parliament, Miroslav Ouzký, has actually been prepared by Porsche. The compromise amendment comprising a complex table of noise limits has been awaited by MEPs all summer. When it was finally received the document shows it was authored by “Gerhard, Hans-Martin, Porsche AG.” The vote in the Environment Committee was originally scheduled for June but delayed by Mr Ouzký to allow time for compromise to be found. It now appears he was awaiting Porsche’s advice that was drafted in early July.
If backed by MEPs, the compromise amendment, drafted by Porsche, would lead to existing 15 year old noise limits being weakened and many vehicles exempted from the regulations for years. The proposals from Porsche include extra allowances for sports cars. This would be an unprecedented setback for EU environmental legislation. Traffic noise is the biggest environmental problem in Europe after air pollution, affecting the lives of more than 200 million of Europeans. Traffic noise is associated with some 50.000 deaths a year due to heart attacks and to around 200.000 cases of heart diseases (1).
“MEPs must reject these biased compromise amendments and ensure that the regulations lead to a progressive tightening, not weakening of noise from vehicles” said Greg Archer of Transport and Environment. “The current compromise amendment has clearly been unduly influenced by the motor industry.”
Back in 2009, Porsche also tried to influence the UN regulatory body on noise by proposing standards which, if adopted, would have allowed cars to be up to ten times louder than presently allowed (2). During an event in Parliament in June 2012 they suggested that the cost of reducing traffic noise should be met by local authorities who should build huge noise barriers and redesigning urban areas rather than making cars quieter (3).
(1) T&E background briefing on vehicle noise: http://www.transportenvironment.org/what-we-do/vehicle-noise/background