• Vehicle noise deal protects industry rather than health of citizens

    The lives of millions of Europeans will be blighted by an increase in road traffic noise for years to come as a weakened vehicle noise deal was approved by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee today. The Committee voted to accept a deal agreed earlier this month by Member States, the Parliament and the Commission. The law now needs to be rubber-stamped by Member States and the full Parliament before entering into force.

    Reducing noise from vehicles is a public health imperative, with nearly half of all EU citizens exposed to road traffic noise over the level the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers to pose a serious risk to health [1]. In September 2013, an independent report assessed the impact of different noise proposals brought forward by the different institutions. The final agreed proposal, which has been adopted, provides much less benefit (€123 billion) than the others, but for almost the same cost to the industry (€5.7 billion). By choosing this weakened proposal, the EU has saved the car industry €1.3 billion in costs, while the cost to society is €67 billion.
    T&E policy officer Cécile Toubeau commented: “After intensive lobbying and outcry by carmakers, the EU has agreed on a vehicle noise deal which does more to protect the industry than our health. Decision-makers are putting extra burden on society and government purses, while at the same time giving industry an easy ride. Reducing vehicle noise has huge health and societal benefits, but at the same time, the reality is that almost half of Europeans are currently exposed to dangerous levels of this road traffic noise.”
    The new law extends a 15 year delay before new vehicle standard are fully introduced, compared to the Commission proposal which would have them introduced in 7 years. Following the 15 year delay, the updated standard will apply to all new vehicles sold. Because the European car fleet renews every 15 years, the full benefits of lower noise levels will only be heard after 30 years.
    “MEPs and national governments turned down a huge opportunity to improve the quality of life and health of European citizens. The unnecessary delay in updated vehicle standards will mean many Europeans have sleepless nights ahead of them, while the industry will be able to sleep easy,” Toubeau concluded.

    Notes to editors:

    (1) WHO (2011): Burden of disease from environmental noise. Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe – https://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-publish/abstracts/burden-of-disease-from-environmental-noise.-quantification-of-healthy-life-years-lost-in-europe

    (2) Commission’s proposal: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0856:FIN:EN:PDF