- Understanding aviation noise
- Regulation and mitigation strategies
- Environmental Noise Directive
The first attempt at creating an EU-wide noise policy was the Green Paper on Future Noise Policy, adopted by the European Commission in 1996 (E.A. King, E. Murphy, Environmental noise – ‘Forgotten’ or ‘Ignored’ pollutant?, Applied Acoustics, Volume 112, 2016, Pages 211-215).
The paper set the framework for Directive 2002/49/EC also known as the Environmental Noise Directive (END). The END aims to “define a common approach intended to avoid, prevent or reduce on a prioritised basis, the harmful effects, including annoyance, due to exposure to environmental noise”. By doing so, the END provides a base for developing measures to reduce the noise emitted by significant sources of noise, including aircraft.
The aims of the Environmental Noise Directive
The END has two main aims. Firstly, to define a common approach to avoiding, preventing or reducing the harmful effects of noise exposure. To this end, Member States must:
- Carry out noise mapping to determine populations exposed to environmental noise;
- Make sure that information on environmental noise and its effects is publicly available;
- Adopt action plans, based on the results of noise mapping, with a view to:
- to prevent and reduce environmental noise, particularly where noise levels can have harmful effects on human health; and
- to maintain the level of environmental noise where it is good.
Secondly, END requires that the Member States provide a base for developing measures to reduce noise from major sources, particularly road and rail vehicles and networks, aircraft, outdoor equipment, industry, and mobile machinery. The END requires that a series of actions are implemented by the EU Member States every five years. These actions are:
- To monitor environmental noise – the Member States must develop strategic noise maps to estimate the level of population’s and/or buildings’ exposure to environmental noise in priority areas of their jurisdiction;
- To manage environmental noise issues – based on the developed strategic noise maps, the Member States must adopt action plans containing measures designed to address noise issues, including noise prevention/reduction and preserving sound quality where it is deemed to be good;
- To inform and consult the public – strategic noise maps, action plans and relevant information about noise exposure, its effects and measures considered to address environmental noise issues should be made available to the public and developed in consultation with the public.
The END reflects the need to limit the disturbance produced by noise (and its associated health impacts) in a way that allows the aviation industry to grow. However, due to the diverse range of nations in the EU and their distinct characteristics (i.e. population, GDP, dominant industries), the legislation empowers countries to determine the specific ways in which the END will be adhered to. The result is a significant variation in approaches to noise monitoring and mitigation across the EU.