Background to Strategic Noise Maps and Noise Action Plans
EU Directive 2002/49/EC, which was transposed into Irish law through the European Communities (Environmental Noise) Regulations 2018 to 2021, requires the local authorities within the Dublin agglomeration (Dublin City Council, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, South Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare County Councils) to produce Strategic Noise Maps and Noise Action Plans every five years. These maps shall apply to environmental noise created by human activities and particularly to noise emitted by road traffic, rail traffic, air traffic and from sites of industrial activity.
This directive was implemented on foot of an EU green paper on ‘Future Noise Policy’ which highlighted the need for a high level of health and environmental protection against noise. In this green paper, noise in the environment was addressed as one of the main environmental problems in Europe.
The aims of the directive are:
- To monitor environmental noise by requiring competent authorities in member states to draw up "strategic noise maps" for agglomerations, major roads, major railways and major airports, using the harmonised noise indicators Lden (day-evening-night equivalent sound levels) and Lnight (night equivalent sound levels). These maps are to be used to assess the number of people annoyed and sleep-disturbed respectively throughout each member state in the European Union.
- To inform and consult the public about noise exposure, its effects, and the measures to be considered to mitigate same.
- To address local noise issues by requiring competent authorities to draw up noise action plans to mitigate noise exposure where necessary and to maintain the environmental acoustic quality where it is good. 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.
A project to implement Round 4 of the Strategic Noise Mapping and Noise Action Plan for the agglomeration of Dublin commenced in May 2021. Phase 1 of the project involved the completion of noise modelling and the preparation of the Strategic Noise Maps. The Maps are available to view at the link below.
Phase 2 of the project will involve the production of a Noise Action Plan to determine measures to help mitigate noise exposure at priority areas identified using the Strategic Noise Maps and also to maintain quiet areas where noise quality is good. Phase 2 is due to commence in April 2023 and due to be completed by September 2024. Phase 2 will involve a period of public consultation on the draft Noise Action Plan in early 2024.