Road traffic is the principal cause of noise disturbance across Europe, according to a new study published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). It means that road transport is now a major contributor to the two largest environmental stressors in Europe: air pollution and noise.
The unofficial capital of Europe is the most congested city in Europe, according to the latest ranking of congested cities, but opinion sampling and a vote in Gothenburg suggest public willingness for tackling congestion is not great.
A deal between EU officials, MEPs and member states on measures to reduce road noise from vehicles means Europeans will have to wait another 30 years to enjoy a quieter life. The deal, agreed earlier this month, waters down a Commission proposal that had already been criticised for being too weak and too late. T&E says the deal is ‘disgraceful’ as it puts the interests of the carmakers ahead of the health and welfare of Europe’s citizens.
Efforts to reduce traffic noise across Europe suffered a setback earlier this month when MEPs voted to weaken current noise limits for sports cars and lorries. The outcome of the vote hinders moves to bring EU vehicle noise levels into line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for safe limits. T&E says MEPs have put pressure by the automotive industry ahead of the health of citizens.
A group of noise expert has written to the Commission in order to encourage it to take tighten measures on traffic noise levels, especially vehicle noise, which have severe health impacts. They stressed the importance of having stricter standards on noise emissions in a very short time, as well as the rapidity with which vehicle producers can comply to them in a quite short time.
The Commission has published its long-awaited proposals on reducing noise from cars, vans, buses and lorries, but the vast majority of cars already meet the first stage of the stricter limits, and almost a quarter meet the second stage. T&E says the proposals should have gone ‘farther and faster’, and has called for a third stage in the timetable in order to create an incentive for quieter vehicles.