Noise

Noise

Directive 2002/49/EC

The Directive requires competent authorities in Member States to draw up “strategic noise maps” for major roads, railways, airports and agglomerations, using harmonised noise indicators L den (day-evening-night equivalent level) and L night (night equivalent level). These maps are then to be used to assess the number of people potentially annoyed and sleep disturbed.

The Directive requires that the public is informed and consulted about noise exposure, its effects, and the measures considered to address noise. The process of provision of information, consultation, and ultimate decision making on the issues of noise management is known as the Action Planning Process. The final Action Plans will aim to reduce noise where necessary, and maintain environmental noise quality where it is good. It is important to note that the Directive does not set any limit value, nor does it prescribe the measures to be used in the Action Plans, which remain at the discretion of the competent authorities.

This Directive has since been transposed into the Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

The Aarhus Convention

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (pdf ~50K) was adopted on 25 June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus (Århus) at the Fourth Ministerial Conference as part of the “Environment for Europe” process. It entered into force on 30 October 2001.

The Aarhus Convention establishes a number of rights of the public (individuals and their associations) with regard to the environment. The Parties to the Convention are required to make the necessary provisions so that public authorities (at national, regional or local level) will contribute to these rights to become effective.

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was adopted on 25th June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in the ‘Environment for Europe’ process.

The Aarhus Convention is a new kind of environmental agreement. The Convention:

  • Links environmental rights and human rights
  • Acknowledges that we owe an obligation to future generations
  • Establishes that sustainable development can be achieved only through the involvement of all stakeholders
  • Links government accountability and environmental protection
  • Focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities in a democratic context.

The subject of the Convention goes to the heart of the relationship between people and governments. The Convention is not only an environmental agreement, it is also a Convention about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness.

The Aarhus Convention grants the public rights and imposes on Parties and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice.

The Aarhus Convention is also forging a new process for public participation in the negotiation and implementation of international agreements.

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