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Assessment and management of environmental noise

As part of the effort to tackle noise pollution, the European Union has laid down a common approach to avoiding, preventing or reducing on a prioritised basis the harmful effects of exposure to environmental noise. This approach is based on using common methods to map noise, on providing information to the public and on implementing action plans at local level. This Directive is also to serve as a basis for developing Community measures concerning noise sources.

ACT

Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise [See amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

This Directive is aimed at controlling noise perceived by people in built-up areas, in public parks or other quiet areas in an agglomeration, in quiet areas in open country, near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and areas. It does not apply to noise that is caused by the exposed person him or herself, noise from domestic activities, noise created by neighbours, noise at work places or inside means of transport or noise due to military activities in military areas.

Noise indicators and their assessment methods

Lden is an indicator of the overall noise level during the day, evening and night which is used to describe the annoyance caused by exposure to noise. Lnight is an indicator for the sound level during the night used to describe sleep disturbance. The noise indicators Lden and Lnight are used in the making of strategic noise maps.

Other indicators may be used for acoustical planning and noise zoning and in the special cases as listed in Annex I to the Directive.

The values of Lden and Lnight are defined using the assessment methods set out in Annex II to the Directive. Common assessment methods for the determination of Lden and Lnight will be established by the Commission. In the meantime, Member States may use their own methods to determine the common indicators, provided that such methods conform to Annex II.

Dose-effect relations will be introduced in Annex III by future revisions in order to be able to assess the effect of noise on populations.

No later than 18 July 2005, Member States are to communicate information to the Commission on any relevant limit values in force or under preparation, expressed in terms of Lden and Lnight and, where appropriate, Lday and Levening, for road-traffic noise, air-traffic noise, rail-traffic noise and industrial noise.

Strategic noise mapping

A strategic noise map enables a global assessment to be made of noise exposure in an area due to different noise sources and overall predictions to be made for such an area. The strategic noise maps must satisfy the minimum requirements laid down in Annex IV to the Directive.

No later than 18 July 2005, Member States are to make available to the public information concerning the competent authorities and bodies responsible for making and, where relevant, approving strategic noise maps.

No later than 30 June 2005, and thereafter every five years, Member States must inform the Commission of the major roads which have more than six million vehicle passages a year, railways which have more than 60 000 train passages per year, major airports and the agglomerations with more than 250 000 inhabitants within their territories. By 30 June 2007 at the latest, strategic noise maps showing the situation during the preceding year in the vicinity of the infrastructures and in the agglomerations referred to must have been made and, where relevant, approved.

No later than 31 December 2008, Member States are to inform the Commission of all the agglomerations with more than 100 000 inhabitants and of all the major roads and major railways within their territories. By 30 June 2012 at the latest, and thereafter every five years, strategic noise maps showing the situation during the preceding year must be made and, where relevant, approved for those agglomerations, roads and railways.

Noise maps must be reviewed, and revised if necessary, every five years.

Action plans

Action plans are aimed at managing noise issues and effects, including noise reduction if necessary. They must meet the minimum requirements set out in Annex V to the Directive.

The measures within the plans are at the discretion of the competent authorities, but should address priorities which may be identified by the exceeding of any relevant limit value or by other criteria chosen by the Member States and apply in particular to the most important areas as established by strategic mapping.

No later than 18 July 2005, Member States are to make available to the public information concerning the authorities and bodies responsible for drawing up and, where relevant, approving the action plans.

No later than 18 July 2008, action plans must be drawn up for major roads which have more than six million vehicle passages a year, railways which have more than 60 000 train passages per year, major airports and agglomerations with more than 250 000 inhabitants.
No later than 18 July 2013, action plans must be drawn up for all major agglomerations, major airports, major roads and major railways.

The action plans are to be reviewed when a major development occurs affecting the existing noise situation, and at least every five years.

Information for the citizen

Member States are to ensure that a public consultation is organised and the results thereof are taken into account before the action plans are approved.

Member States are to ensure that the strategic noise maps and the action plans are made available and disseminated to the public in conformity with Annexes IV and V to this Directive and in accordance with the Directive on the freedom of access to information on the environment.

Reports concerning the Directive

On 10 March 2004, the Commission forwarded a report to the European Parliament and the Council on existing Community measures relating to sources of environmental noise (see "Related Acts" below).

Member States are to collect the noise maps and action plans. They are to forward to the Commission the information contained in the noise maps and a summary of the action plans. Every five years, the Commission is to publish a summary report on the data contained in the noise maps and action plans. The first report will be submitted by 18 July 2009.

No later than 18 July 2009, the Commission is to submit to the European Parliament and the Council a report on the application of this Directive. The report will assess the need for further Community actions on environmental noise and, if appropriate, propose implementing strategies. It is to include in particular a review of the acoustic environment quality in the Community. The report is to be reviewed every five years.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2002/49/EC

18.7.2002

18.7.2002

OJ L 189 of 18.7.2002

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008

11.12.2008

-

OJ L 311 of 21.11.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2002/49/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 1 June 2011 on the implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive in accordance with Article 11 of Directive 2002/49/EC [COM (2011) 321 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 10 March 2004 concerning existing Community measures relating to sources of environmental noise, pursuant to article 10(1) of Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise [COM(2004) 160 - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 26.10.2011
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