The lives of millions of Europeans will be blighted by increased levels of road traffic noise for years to come says environmental NGO, Transport & Environment (T&E) as the European Parliament voted to weaken current noise limits for sports cars and trucks.
Alongside the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), T&E has resumed its call to EU Member States to strengthen limits for vehicles noise following the disappointing result of the Parliamentary vote last week.
The amendments proposed by the Rapporteur, Miroslav Ouzký, and approved by the full Parliament, will lead to the loosening of the current noise limits for some vehicles, which were set almost twenty years ago. The weaker standards will allow much louder sports cars on to the road and mean that lorries will remain at their current high level of permissible noise.
T&E policy officer Cécile Toubeau said the result of the vote ‘wastes a once-in-a-generation opportunity to give us all quieter lives’, adding: “It overturns a positive result from the Environment Committee, and 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.”
Exposure to road traffic noise is linked to raised stress levels, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and sleep deprivation.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly half of all EU citizens are exposed to road traffic noise over the recommended level and the effects of traffic noise on Europeans is the second biggest environmental problem affecting health after air pollution.
Current vehicle noise standards date from 1995. Seventeen years on, the number of cars populating Europe’s roads has dramatically gone up to reach more than 250 million and is expected to increase further. As such, two environmental campaign groups say that the standards urgently needed to be strengthened-not weakened- to control the impact of traffic noise on the health of EU citizens.
Had the EU stuck with its original plans for new standards, a four-decibel cut in vehicle noise emission regulations would have been equivalent to more than halving current traffic levels.
HEAL deputy director Anne Stauffer added: “MEPs turned down a huge opportunity to improve the quality of life and health of European citizens. We urge the EU Member States to correct this approach and commit to effective vehicle noise reductions in order to reap substantial economic and health benefits.”
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