‘Scaremongering’ could lead to louder roads

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.

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For the past 20 years, noise limits have remained largely unchanged. In 2011, the Commission proposed a four-decibel cut in noise, which would have had the effect of more than halving current noise from traffic, but certain manufacturers, notably Porsche, lobbied against this. The result was a proposal from the legislation’s rapporteur Miroslav Ouzky –that would effectively weaken the current standards, making sports cars and lorries even louder than they are today.

Ouzky’s proposal was rejected in December by MEPs on the European Parliament’s environment committee, but earlier this month the full Parliament approved the Ouzky proposal over the Commission’s four-decibel reduction. This despite the fact that nearly half of all EU citizens are exposed to traffic noise above the level the WHO believes poses a serious risk to human health.

T&E vehicles officer Cécile Toubeau said: ‘This vote wastes a once-in-a-generation opportunity to give us all quieter lives. It shows that MEPs put the scaremongering of the automotive industry above the health of citizens. As a result, our roads will get louder in the coming years.’

The legislation is not yet finalised. It now goes to representatives of member states, who are being strongly urged by T&E and other NGOs to favour the Commission’s proposal over the plenary vote in the Parliament.