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.
After a twenty-year wait, the European Commission has today proposed new standards to cut noise levels from cars, vans, buses and lorries.
This two page briefing examines the EU's proposal to revise vehicle noise standards, with T&E's suggestions for how they could be improved to better protect health.
The current European Union noise regulations for new or upgraded interoperable rail vehicles came into force in 2002 for high-speed rail and in 2006 for conventional traffic. These standards are known as Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI), and are adopted by Commission Decisions. A comprehensive revision of the Noise TSI is planned for 2013. A working group has been established by the European Railway Agency (ERA) who is leading the revision process, where T&E represents the views of environmental groups. This paper is intended as an input to the working group.
The German government has launched an initiative on reducing noise from cars that would lead to dramatic noise increases. T&E is warning that the German proposals, presented to the UN Economic Commission for Europe, show that Germany’s car industry is looking to secure permission for certain high-performance cars to be twice as loud, and Porsche sports cars four times as loud as normal cars.
Future Porsche sports cars could get away with being almost four times noisier than regular cars while high performance versions of the BMW 3 series, Audi A4 and Mini Cooper could become almost twice as loud under German plans for weak international limits on vehicle noise (1). Noise reductions for lorries would also be delayed until 2028 if the proposal from the German transport and environment ministries is accepted. T&E is calling on the EU to set its own stringent noise standards for cars and lorries in a proposal expected later this month.
Germany will present a proposal for international vehicle noise standards at the next UNECE noise meeting on 19-21 September 2011. The German proposal would create some important loopholes, which means significant action will not be asked of the worst offenders: heavy lorries and high-powered cars.
Traffic noise has suddenly moved up the EU agenda, with the Commission promising to cut noise from cars, vans, buses and lorries within five years. A proposal due later this year is expected to seek to reduce car noise by four decibels and lorry noise by three. The issue of noise has lagged behind EU efforts to cut air pollutant emissions, but a recent study suggesting that the benefits of halving vehicle noise would bring massive benefits to society and financial savings to governments appears to have created a sense of urgency in Brussels.
The European Commission has announced plans to tighten noise limits for cars, lorries and buses with a proposal expected within weeks and by September at the latest. Environmental and health organisations have welcomed the Commission’s announcement but called for standards that go much further towards World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for avoiding dangerous impacts on health from traffic noise pollution.
This report summarises the latest evidence of the effect of traffic noise on the health and wellbeing of Europeans, and gives policy recommendations on how to reduce noise.