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To: Members of the EP’s Environment Committee
Re: ENVI discussion on vehicle noise – comments from health, transport and environment groups

This afternoon during the ENVI committee session, you will be exchanging views on the draft report on the sound level of motor vehicles, by rapporteur Miroslav Ouzky (COM(2011)0856).

The vehicle noise proposal is a key opportunity for health prevention that should not be missed, and would bring about huge benefits for national governments, local authorities and society at large.

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Transport & Environment (T&E) and European Environmental Bureau (EEB) call on you as an ENVI Committee member to reach a position on the vehicle noise file that will confirm the European Parliament’s commitment to tackling traffic noise and to use this unprecedented opportunity to prevent ill-health and disease.

In order to do so, we call on you to strengthen the Commission proposal by:

  • Approving a long-term framework to reduce vehicle noise, with a further tightening of standards to come into force in 2020
  • Providing a maximum noise limit to reduce highly intrusive peak noise levels
  • Adopting provisions for transparency as regards all vehicles’ noise emissions
  • Closing loopholes in the existing legislation
  • Accelerating progress by setting standards that come into force faster

As MEPs, you have recently shown your commitment to tackling health effects from noise in the resolution on chronic diseases and also on the 7th EU Environment Action Programme.

Consequently, we very much hope that you will support an ambitious proposal to reduce vehicle noise, echoing the concerns of many citizens in Europe.

For further information on the health evidence and the vehicle noise proposal please see below.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Stauffer, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) Greg Archer, Transport & Environment (T&E) Louise Duprez, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

T&E, HEAL and EEB publications

Health evidence and EP resolutions

As an assessment by the World Health Organisation on the burden of disease from environmental noise has shown, road traffic noise contributes substantially to the burden of disease in the EU. In terms of the burden on health, environmental noise is second only to air pollution. It is therefore a major public health challenge that urgently deserves greater political attention.

There are many other results of scientific research, which include EU funded projects, that highlight the links between noise exposure and health impacts. Studies have revealed that 50, 000 deaths and nearly a quarter of a million cases of cardiovascular disease every year in Europe are linked to traffic noise. Also for the first time, noise has been linked to an increased stroke risk: in Denmark 5% of all stroke cases are caused by traffic noise.

The health concerns were raised in a letter to the rapporteur and shadows on the vehicle noise file signed by leading experts on noise from the field of health and vehicle technologies.

We are especially concerned about the body of science showing the impact of environmental noise on cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of death in the EU, accounting for 40% of deaths and approximately 10% of healthcare expenditure. Reducing noise emissions at source by tightening vehicle noise standards is therefore a key component for chronic disease prevention, a priority on the EU’s public health agenda.

MEPs expressed specific concerns about noise and health in the resolution on the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (EAP), stressing that the 7th EAP should include measures to address health impacts from noise.

In the European Parliament resolution on chronic diseases from Sept. 2011 (“EU position and commitment in advance of UN high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases”), MEPs stressed the environmental dimension of chronic diseases and highlighted that an effective environmental policy offers major prevention opportunities. The vehicle noise proposal with the approach to reduce noise at source is such an opportunity.

Last updated on 21 June 2012

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