Noise pollution and social impact. The European Parliament votes for the adoption of a new regulation on noise emissions from motor vehicles. The request of the European Associations.

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Transport & Environment, Friends of the Earth Italy, and numerous environmental groups and public health protection of 12 EU countries (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Sweden) [ 1], asking the European Deputies approve stricter standards on noise emissions from motor vehicles.

The problem
More than 200 million Europeans (about one in three) are exposed to levels of traffic noise harmful to health. According to the latest report from the World Health Organization [2], after air pollution, noise pollution caused by traffic is one of the environmental factors have the greatest impact on human health it, especially in urban areas with high population density, it is due to cardiovascular disease [3], cognitive disorders (especially in children), and sleep disturbances.
A recent study, commissioned by Transport & Environment Research Institute TNO Netherlands, shows that the introduction of more stringent standards on the level of noise emissions from transport has a cost / benefit ratio by a factor 30, with potential savings social costs associated with approximately 80 billion accumulated in 2030 [4].
A reduction by three decibels of noise emissions from motor vehicles is equivalent to halving the noise pollution from traffic on the road, with a positive impact on the health and quality of life of European citizens, the vast majority live in urban areas and near of relief roads. This reduction is obtainable by intervening directly on vehicles with existing technologies and with a cost far less than that required for interventions of structural soundproofing of buildings or installation of noise barriers along roadsides [4].

The Commission's proposal
In December 2011, the European Commission sent to the Parliament and to the Council a proposal [5] for a new regulation of noise emissions from motor vehicles, the introduction of more stringent standards for cars, vans, buses and heavy vehicles (lorries and trucks). The Commission proposal provides for a reduction of 4 dB for the noise of the cars and vans and 3 decibels for heavier vehicles, with an implementation scheme in two phases:
• The first, within two years after the adoption of the Regulation provides for the reduction of two decibels for cars and vans and a decibel for heavier vehicles;
• the second, three years later, requires a further reduction of two decibels for all categories of vehicles.
The proposal also provides for a review of the new standards for noise emissions two years after the entry into force of the Regulation and the adoption of a new system for measuring emissions.

The Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Tajani welcomed the proposal, stressing its usefulness for the protection of the environment, the health of EU citizens and for the competitiveness of the automotive mainland.

The debate in the European Parliament
Under discussion in the European Parliament, the Commission proposal has been amended several times to make the new limits less stringent noise [6], in the month of December, the Environment Committee of Parliament overwhelmingly approved a document the adoption of a regulation in line with the European Commission initially proposed, which provides the most rigorous standards for vehicles noisier, including buses and high-powered sports car, extending, however, the timing of implementation [7 ].
Despite the Regulation had been entrusted to the Commission in the legislative and despite the vote last December, the Hon. Ouzký, Rapporteur of the Environment Committee of the Parliament, not finding an agreement between the various political parties announced the approval of the Regulation put to the vote of the European Parliament in plenary session, scheduled for next February 5, 2013).

Requests associations
Transport & Environment, Friends of the Earth Italy, and numerous environmental organizations, and protection of public health from 12 countries of the Union [1], they ask that the members of the respective European countries vote for the approval of a regulation:
1. provides limits for noise emissions not exceeding those proposed by the amendments of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament [7];
2. encourages early entry into force of this Regulation and its subsequent implementation.

[1] The Associations promoters are: Transport & Environment (Brussels), Friends of the Earth / Friends of the Earth (Italy), UK Noise Association working with Scotland - Transforms Scotland (UK and Scotland), France Nature Environment (France) Dutch noise abatement society (Netherlands and Belgium); Verkehrsclub Deutschland (Germany), The Danish Ecological Council (Denmark, Sweden, Finland); INSPRO, Civil Affairs Institute (Poland), Fundacion Vivosano (Spain), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), which includes associations of France, UK, Spain, Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary.


[2] WHO (2011) "Burden of disease from environmental noise. Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe" 

[3] CE Delft (2007) Traffic noise reduction in Europe: Health effects, social costs and technical and policy options to reduce road and rail traffic noise, den Boer, Schroten, Delft, August 2007. Available from:

[4] "Reduction of vehicle noise emissions: Technological potential and impacts".


[6] "Comparing proposed noise limits to current ones"

[7] Si veda 2011/0409/COD Sound level of motor vehicles

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