Dáil Éireann - Volume 555 - 10 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Noise Pollution.

  155. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government when he will introduce a noise standard, particularly in relation to areas adjacent to traffic routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17510/02]

[226]   Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Cullen): The identification of works to be carried out on newly constructed or improved roads to mitigate the effects of road traffic noise is carried out as part of the environmental impact assessment process for relevant projects. Forecasts of road noise levels are included in all environmental impact statements for major road schemes. Objections can be made to proposed road developments on the grounds [227] of the potential impact of increased noise, including at an oral hearing held by An Bord Pleanála.

  In approving road projects, it is open to the board to require modifications in relation, inter alia, to noise mitigation and such modifications have in the past been imposed as required. In view of the comprehensive nature of this approach, the activation of regulations, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency, under section 77 of the Roads Act, 1993, in relation to noise mitigation on newly constructed or improved roads has not to date been considered necessary and I do not propose to make such regulations.

  EU legislation transposed into Irish law sets standards for permissible sound levels and exhaust systems on new motor vehicles. The Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations, 1963, require that vehicles should be fitted with a silencer or other device suitable for reducing, to a reasonable level, noise caused by the escape of exhaust gases from the engine and prohibits use of a vehicle which causes any excessive noise in a public place. An assessment is also made concerning the effectiveness of the silencer in reducing exhaust related noise, as far as is reasonable, as part of the roadworthiness tests for heavy and light goods vehicles and private cars.

  Future noise policy will be guided by Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise which was adopted on 25 June 2002 and must be transposed into national law by mid-2004. This directive requires, inter alia, the mapping of noise using harmonised noise indicators from sources including transport, major roads, railways, airports and industry and the drawing up and publication of strategic action plans to manage noise issues and effects. I understand Dublin Corporation has already commenced work on noise mapping. The directive does not set or require the setting of environmental noise standards and I do not have any plans at present to specify these.