European Parliament draft report hinders plans for quieter cars

The lives of millions of Europeans could be blighted by traffic noise pollution for years to come if the European Parliament – under pressure from car manufacturers - backs draft changes to proposed future vehicle noise emissions standards in a forthcoming vote. Transport & Environment, the sustainable transport campaigners, are calling for rules that will lead to a real-world drop in traffic noise, which is a major cause of heart disease and has a negative impact on children’s learning.
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In early July, the Parliament’s ENVI committee is set to vote on new noise limits for private and commercial vehicles proposed by the European Commission in December last year. But expert analysis carried out for T&E suggests that draft changes proposed by the Parliament committee would make noise standards much weaker (1). According to the noise experts who have examined the ENVI draft proposal, noise emissions from certain types of vehicles such as large buses and large trucks would actually increase for the next 15 years, as a result of proposed changes to the way vehicles are categorised and tested.

Greg Archer, T&E programme manager for clean vehicles said:
“The ENVI committee could end up making the new rules even weaker than the existing 20-year-old standards. That would be a slap in the face for the millions of Europeans that live next to noisy roads. In times of economic hardship, local authorities will be left to pick up the bill to install expensive noise barriers. That makes no sense as it would be one hundred times cheaper to cut the noise from vehicles.”

Over the last 40 years, traffic noise has become one of the biggest environmental problems in Europe in terms of its impact on health. Vehicle noise is associated with 50,000 premature deaths a year and 250,000 cases of heart disease. Research has shown that legislation to cut traffic noise at source would bring about benefits with a value over thirty times greater than the related costs (2).

“Rather than giving in to the noisy demands of the car industry, MEPs should support a regulation which contains stricter noise standards for all types of vehicles and a testing method that mirrors real world driving conditions,” Mr Archer said.

Earlier this month, in an event at the European Parliament, over 200 organisations launched a joint declaration to cut vehicle noise (3).

Footnotes: 
  1. A T&E briefing comparing noise limits in the Commission and Envi proposals can be found at: http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/comparing-proposed-noise-limits-current-ones
  2. http://www.transportenvironment.org/what-we-do/vehicle-noise
  3. http://www.transportenvironment.org/sound-investment-reduce-vehicle-noise

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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