• New vehicle noise standards proposed

    After a twenty-year wait, the European Commission has today proposed new standards to cut noise levels from cars, vans, buses and lorries.

    Reacting to the proposal, Nina Renshaw, deputy director at Transport and Environment, said: “While this proposal is a welcome move in the right direction, it should have gone farther and faster. The vast majority of cars for sale already meet step 1 of the Commission proposal, and almost a quarter even achieve step 2; so these steps are clearly not tough enough. 50,000 heart deaths in Europe are caused by transport noise every year, it is obvious that the problem merits bolder action.”

    Environmental and health groups are recommending a third cut in noise levels in 2020. The groups are also particularly concerned about the limits for heavy goods vehicles which don’t go far enough. Lorries represent only 3% of vehicles, but are responsible for half of vehicle noise emissions.

    Ms Renshaw added: “It’s far cheaper to add readily-available noise reducing technology to vehicles than for cash-strapped local authorities to spend millions on noise barriers along roads. The benefits outweigh the costs by 20 to 1, so there is no excuse for inaction.”

    The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) says huge health benefits can be reaped from strong standards on vehicle noise. “Ambitious regulation on vehicle noise could help avoid huge numbers of first-time strokes and heart deaths in Europe, and help reduce the disturbance that noise has on sleep and children’s ability to concentrate,” says Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director, HEAL.

    “New evidence on the harmful effects of exposure to noise is emerging all the time”, she added.

    “After air pollution, noise is the biggest environmental health problem in Europe. This proposal is a cheap way of cutting the problem by targeting it at the source. Let’s make sure it is done right and put an end to this dangerous nuisance,” said EEB’s Louise Duprez.

    The new regulation, adopted today, now needs approval by the European Parliament and the member states.

    Earlier this year, around 20 of Europe’s leading vehicle noise experts sent a letter to the European Commission calling for more action on vehicle noise which negatively affects almost half of European citizens, around 210 million people (3).