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Florence, 19th of March 2009

Noise in cities: general approach and

European network solutions
by Mr. Henk Wolfert1

Noise is often called the Cinderella of the environmental aspects. Where other
environmental aspects like air pollution, soil contamination and climate change get and
got a lot of public and/or political attention, noise is often overlooked. Many politicians
and policy makers are not aware of the harmful effects of noise and think that noise is
only annoying the exposed people and when the switch is turned off and the noise is
vanished the effects are gone immediately or within a short time as well. This paper will
be focussed on noise in cities. What are the main causes of it, what are the harmful and
even irreversible effects of long lasting noise and what can be done on a local level,
national and European level to reduce the number of exposed people in Europe drastically.
Reducing these numbers means that the numbers of health incidents will decrease too.

Noise in cities
In general, cities are very crowded, a lot of people are living, working, visiting, studying
and recreating in urbanized areas. Currently almost 70 per cent of the European citizens
are living in cities and their number is still growing up to 80 per cent the next decades.
Cities are like a magnet for a lot of people. This is because of numerous reasons, cities are
offering more:

- facilities for culture and recreation (museum, cinema’s,

zoo, theatre, concerts, disco, stadiums, special events et cetera)
- shops, shopping malls and commercial zones
- employment than in suburbs or in the rural areas
- schools, universities and educational institutes
- anonymity than small villages
- diversity in housing
- interconnectivity to other cities and parts of the country

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And a lot of other reasons more because not all advantages a city offers compared with
small villages, the rural areas or hamlets is listed above. Summarized, cities are more
vibrant and energizing than other places like villages or rural areas. But,.. the shadow side

of these advantages are numerous too! It is not only the density of buildings, roads, works
and activities that takes place in cities but also the density of people as receivers of the
unwanted effects of those things. Noise, air pollution, litter, water pollution, soil pollution
are more present in urbanized areas than elsewhere. The policies on local, national and
European level to strive to a more compact city could lead to more noise problems. As we
know compact cities could avoid urban sprawl which leads to more transport movements
from city to the suburb and areas outside the city. It is also an answer to cope with the
effect of climate change because not built up areas can absorb and retain the rainwater
during and after heavy rainfalls where built up areas cannot. In this paper we focus on
noise but we do not forget that other important environmental problems exist and that
solving more problems by applying integrated measures which are beneficial for more
than one environmental aspect deserves our preferences.

As known from numerous publications in the past decade, traffic noise is considered as
the most dominant source of noise in urbanized areas. This is often based on surveys done
within the framework of the Environmental Noise Directive (2002/49/EC). In this
directive, abbreviated as END, competent bodies are compelled to make Noise Maps and
Noise Action Plans. Only airport noise, railway noise, road traffic noise and noise
originated by enterprises are subject of the END. Other kinds of noise are neglected like
construction noise, recreational noise, low frequency noise, neighbour noise,
neighbourhood noise and noise from special events like carnival, festivals and similar
temporary events.

This makes that one has to realize that the noise maps according to the END do not cover
the whole noise situation in cities assuming that the production of the noise maps is
properly done by the city and/or their consultant. Noise from some roads, enterprises,
railways do not meet the threshold criteria mentioned in the END and are excluded from
the maps. The same with some kinds of aviation like heliports, model planes, ultra lights
et cetera. As mentioned afore construction noise, recreation noise, neighbour noise is
excluded from the Noise maps too. This means that we have to realize that we may not say
that traffic noise is the most dominant sort of noise in urbanized areas. And one may
expect that the noise caused by transport or traffic will increase. The number of cars and
vehicles will grow the next decades and the number of citizens too. The forecasts are
showing us that the transport movements will grow at least with 1-2 per cent per year.
This was estimated before the global financial crisis. Hence, if measures stay behind the
nuisance will increase as well in Europe. Social surveys done all over Europe by a lot of

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cities, countries or institutes have shown us that neighbour noise is annoying the people
the most. People often report noise from mopeds and scooters as the second category of
nuisance. Or sent in a lot of complaints about it. These findings could be important for
politicians and policy makers in order to prioritize them. Assuming that the municipality
has the resources and the powers to mitigate the noise.

Not only the traffic

has increased
dramatically the last
decades, see the
figure below. Also
the number of noisy
equipment in
households has
increased. In the
sixties a family house
comprised a washing
machine, a vacuum
cleaner, a radio and
sometimes a television. Nowadays a family house comprises a lot of equipment like
numerous televisions and radio’s and other audio equipment, a fridge, a freezer, a dish
washer, drilling machines, sewing and sawing machines, a motorized lawn mower, leave
blowers and so on. And this produces noise. Apart from that the houses are furniture with
wooden or tiled floors, no curtains, no carpets, wooden stairs without carpet cover and last
but not least people have more time and money to spend and are more at home, recreating,
outgoing et cetera. And all those activities are causing noise too.

Harmful effects of Noise

As reported by many institutions and scientist in the past decades, noise especially long
lasting noise causes health effects in humans. As mentioned in the introduction, most of
the people assume that noise is only causing annoyance. But this is not the case at all.
Noise can cause harmful effects in people. The most known effects beside annoyance are
sleep disturbance, hearing impairment, high blood pressure, cardio vascular diseases,
cognitive effects like reading and memory impairment, fear and getting depressed,
deterioration of the immune system and congenital effects.

Effect Evidence Metric Level

Annoyance +++ LDEN 42
Sleep disturbance +++ SEL 35
Hypertension ++ LAeq,night 55
Biochemical + LAeq,night 55
Ischemic Heart ++ LAeq,night > 55
Myocardial infarcts +++ LAeq,night > 55
Hearing impairment +++ LAq, 24 hr 70
Decreased performing +
Immune system +
Table 1: effects of noise

The category Ischemic Heart Diseases embraces a wide range of diseases like
angina pectoris, pain on the breast and others. In general it can be said that enough
evidence is found for this category. But for some of the diseases which are known
under Ischemic Heart Diseases there is only limited evidence. Distortion of the
immune system was found in some surveys while other investigations could not

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find any indication. Very little evidence is found for premature birth and decreased
human prenatal growth of the fetus when the mother was exposed to noise levels
around 90 dB. Noise does not kill people instantly. It is a long lasting process and
that is why noise is often called “Noise is a quiet killer”. Long lasting noise leads
to stress and high blood pressure which can lead to myocardial incident like heart
attacks and strokes. Those heart attacks and strokes are in some cases fatal and
people die.

Performing an autopsy on a corpse one cannot find the remains of noise. Doing the
same with PM (fine dust particles) one can find the particles in the lungs of a dead
body. And, visiting a cemetery one could not find a gravestone with “here lies our
beloved Mary, died because of noise, may she rest in peace”. No external or
internal remains of noise can be traced. So, it is hard to believe for the outsiders
that exposure to noise sometimes could have even dramatic consequences.
Comparing with other environmental fields like air pollution for instance little
investigations are done to health effects in people. More investigations and
research should be done to get more evidence.

Activities on local level

Depending on the national legislation cities have powers and responsibilities. This differs
from country to country. Some countries have delegated powers as much as possible to the
local governments and other countries prefer to centralize the powers as much as possible.
This is often not the case for all kinds of powers and it can differ per policy field. Safety
and social work inter alia can be delegated to local levels and health or environmental
powers can stay on a central level for instance. The tendency that can be noticed in Europe
to choose for the principle of subsidiarity, which is the principle that government power
ought to reside at the lowest feasible level (i.e. at the local or regional level, instead of the
national or supranational level, unless the latter presents clear advantages) does not occur
in some countries in their own system of governance. This is a pity because as mentioned
above, most of the exposed and annoyed people are living in cities and the local
administration knows more about the city and the cities districts, the spatial aspects, land
use, plans for housing and economy than the central level. In some cases the powers are
(partly) delegated to the regional level. This can strengthen the implementation of all
kinds of legislation and plans and could be more efficient. In cases where cities do have
the powers for noise abatement, and that is in many cases, they have opportunities to
prevent unnecessary noise and to reduce existing noise. Preventing noise in new situations
is much easier and is more potential than reducing noise in existing situations. In new
situations which can be the construction of a new road, railway, building, enterprise or
houses numerous measures can be applied. If legislation is suitable and financial resources
can be found on municipal level or can be paid by the initiator or real estate agency, noise
or annoyance can be avoided. This by applying measures like low noise road surfaces,
traffic management measures like speed reduction, good traffic flow or curbing Heavy
Good Vehicles from parts of the city. Or by implementation of co-modality in their city.
Other measures that can be applied are orientation of the houses, closed facades,
insulation, shielding by other building or screens and house or house block design (see
figure elsewhere in this paper). By using this design the inner facades have less noise and
the sitting, dining and bedroom (most sensitive rooms) can be situated on the quiet façade
and other rooms (toilet, bathroom, hall, store room et cetera) on the noisiest façade. In
some cities it has appeared that no or little parking space was created near the new houses
or high charges for parking in order to prevent car use as much as possible. Combining
these measures with good public transport and facilities for soft modes, like walking,
biking, skating et cetera) this will prevent the citizens from noise. Other options which

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easily can be applied in newly built areas are related to Internet. E-working, e-hopping, e-
learning, e-counselling, e-advising, e-recreation and all other possibilities of e-businesses
can avoid unnecessary car use. This is what the Directorate General of Transport and
Energy (DG-TREN) proposed in their plans to diminish the noise from urban transport.
By special demands on the insulation between the terrace houses and semi-detached
houses mutual nuisance can be avoided. In the social housing house rules can be issued
about the use of parquet and other hard floors.

A lot of these measures can be applied in existing situations too but one has to realize that
applying measures in existing situations are complex, more expensive and the
authorisation of the house owner or house occupant is needed if measures are taken on or
in the dwelling. In the case of new construction of ways, railways, industrial areas et
cetera the cities administration might fear opposition from citizens living nearby the
project which can delay or even deny the implementation of the proposed measure
because of visual nuisance (screens or walls).

The best solutions can be found in new situations and those can be integrated in the
spatial, housing or urban development processes. These solutions give the best results. In
existing situations however, especially for road traffic noise, the ‘main contributor’ of
noise within the END efforts, one might expect limited effects. A rough estimation done
by the city of Rotterdam, has shown that the number of annoyed people lowers with 20%
if 60% of the municipal roads is applied with quiet road surface (quiet asphalt like thin
layer). A hotspot approach leads to a reduction of a few per cent. Other measures like
speed reduction or continuous traffic flow have limited effects. Curbing heavy good
vehicles or use of time windows for freight vehicles have limited effect too.

A quick glance on the provisional data gathered by the European Union learns that the
noise levels in cities are high, very high. A modest city in Europe has noise levels above
65 dB LDEN en 55 LNIGHT. In some cases noise levels even occur above 75 dB. The Noise
Questionnaire set out by EUROCITIES learnt that about 50 per cent of the residents in
cities are exposed to noise levels above 55 dB LDEN and nearly 15 per cent of the residents
is exposed to noise levels above the 65 dB LDEN. The provisional data gathered by the
European Commission also shows us that more than 50 per cent of the residents in the
surveyed areas are exposed to 55 dB LDEN and around 15 per cent to noise levels above 65
dB LDEN caused by road traffic noise. One can assume that this gives an underestimation of
the percentage of exposed people. For the night period dramatic figures are found as well.
Approximately 50 per cent of the residents in the surveyed areas are exposed to noise
levels higher than 50 dB LNIGHT also caused by road traffic noise. If the people exposed to
the other END noise sorts would be added these percentages would increase dramatically.
This high noise burden does not only impact the liveability of the city but has, as stated
above, harmful effects on human health and the value of real estate goods, like houses.
Moreover a moral issue that can be mentioned is that the people exposed to the highest
noise levels can be labelled as the poor people. The poorest are living in houses and areas
exposed to the highest noise levels. This confirms again the statement of the World Health
Organisation who says “the poorest are living downstream, downwind and downhill”.
Those ones are not able to relocate by hiring or buying another house. They cannot afford
it and they are doomed to live down there. This is a form of environmental inequity.

It might be clear that in existing situations cities are not able to solve the local noise
problems at their own. Even if they have the powers and all possible measures could be
applied and there is enough money to finance them just a few decibels can be reduced
overall. Of course on a local spot higher reductions can be realized but on a city level the
average reduction is limited. Maybe 3-5 dB maximum and that will cost a lot of time,
efforts and money! This means that on a national level and European level additional
measures are needed. At a national level other kinds of traction or propagation could be

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stimulated by subsidizing these alternative. One could think of electric or hybrid traction
which is much quieter than diesel or gasoline/petrol traction.

Until now a little written about technical and organisational measures which can lower the
noise in cities. Other more psychological/social measures can be applied as well. Some
examples of these kinds of measures are based on communication. Telling the people what
is actually happening, and what has happened in the past takes away some of the non-
acoustical factors as fear, not in control, predictability et cetera.
This can be done be installing a noise monitoring network in the cities which measures 24
hours per day the noise originated by traffic, airports or the total cumulated noise. The
results of these measurements can be published in a rough form and/or after analyzing it
on Internet or in local or regional papers. It is important not to only report/publish the
finding but also to give a good explanation of the findings. By creating a special (Internet)
counter people can ask for additional information.

By informing the people what has happened, what is happening or what is expected to
happen most people get less annoyed.

Another ‘psychological tool’ is the installation of a platform for residents, government and
originators (road or railway owners, airports directors, captains of industry et cetera). Such
a platform could meet twice or three times per year, depending on the situation and the
developments, and can be used to share information, raising mutual awareness and to
discuss and influence plans, attitudes and behaviour.
Of course other tools or combinations of tools are thinkable and could help to mitigate the
noise nuisance in people.

A measure that can be taken on a local level is the designation of Quiet Urban Areas.
These areas can offer
quietness for people who
are living in cities and
who want to escape from
the noise to a quieter
place. As reported by the
Dutch Health Council
( these quiet
urban areas have an
important function
because people can relax
and get unstressed by
visiting these areas and
stay there for a while. In
these areas no man made
noise can be noticed or at
least, man made noise is not dominantly present in the soundscape. One can hear natural
sounds like the chirping sound of birds, the sound of the wind that chucks the tree leaves
or the sound of a fountain or small water fall. These areas must be designated and
preserved by the cities administration which means that no distortion of the soundscape
may take place by noise from cars, mopeds, events et cetera. Until now only a few cities
have installed these quiet urban areas. Quiet Urban Areas can be designated parks, woods,
squares and open spaces between and behind house blocks which are closed and are
shielding the noise from roads. Often very low noise levels can be found in these open
spaces. Thus not the whole city is blanketed with noise.

Regarding the other kinds of noise such as construction noise, noise from special events,
recreational noise it is possible to create local policies which include limits. However for

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construction noise and low frequency noise it could be better to have legislation on
national level but often this kind of legislation lacks. By means of a municipal ordinance
cities can establish rules and limits for the noise caused by such activities. They cannot
only establish limits but they can also give instructions about the organization and the
emplacement. Those limits and instructions can be put in the permit or allowance that is
needed for events or construction activities. The social housing sector could proclaim
rules for floor or stair coverage and house owner unions could do the same.
To avoid neighbour noise ordinances can be drafted with limits for insulation of the walls,
the technical appliances and the façades. In principle a lot of possibilities are available
depending the national legislation or lack of national legislation in a country.

Monitoring the noise by doing

noise measurements could be an
useful activity of the city as well.
In the Greater Rotterdam Area
noise is monitored in more than
one way. The first way is by means
of noise maps and counting the
number of exposed and annoyed
people using the dose response
curves found by Miedema2 . But as
stated before this does not give a
total or 100 per cent reliable view
because some of the noise (as mentioned above) is not included in the maps. And the
calculated noise is not the real noise people receive but a standardized average per annum
and often based on assumptions about speed, volume and other conditions. It is not based
on the real-time noise levels. For instance, calculating noise levels from traffic it is usual
to use the traffic model that is available in the municipal traffic service and which is often
based on the future or desired situation. Another way to have a view of the number of
annoyed people is by doing a social field survey in which people are interviewed. In the
Greater Rotterdam Area this social survey is done every two year since 1997 by the
Province of South Holland. Comparing the findings of the method based on the noise map
and those based on the social survey considerable differences are found. Probably this is
not only caused by the facts that we use in dose response curves in a smaller area nor that
in the noise map approach some industrial, traffic, railway and airport noise is not
included nor in the fact that the so called ‘Miedema curves’ are partly based on data which
is out of date (before 1960) but it is also based on other facts like the attitude of people,
the media news that may be was focussed on a certain fact and other non-acoustic factors.
Non- acoustic factors are predictability, control of the perceived noise, recognition,
awareness of economic and social benefits of the undertaking generating the noise, fear of
crashes (airplanes), personal benefits, compensation, sensitivity to noise, home ownership,
accessibility to information, understanding and personal benefits. Non-acoustic factors can
influence the perceiving of noise in a very significant way.<

Beside the number of annoyed and highly annoyed people Rotterdam has estimated the
number of people that suffers from sleep disturbance and high blood pressure too. In the
last monitoring report the number of DALY’s and the depreciation of house prices was
estimated as well.

Other cities have similar projects to monitor the noise using all kind of various indicators
(performance indicators, source indicators, health or economical indicators and so on).
Lat year the Greater London Authority has done their survey on Noise and Health. This
survey showed that the 134 potential deaths per annum in London could be attributed to
ischemic heart diseases. This can be found at

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Other cities are monitoring the real-time noise in the field by running a noise monitoring
network all over the city or a part of the city. This could be done with permanent Noise
Monitoring Units (NMU’s) or with mobile equipment. EUROCITIES members Lille and
Lyon are doing this kind of measurements. The city of Madrid has a monitoring network
with mobile NMU’s (Mercedes Smart with a sound level meters on board). The objectives
of those measurements can be manifold like informing the public by connecting the data
base with Internet, informing politicians and policy makers, monitoring the trends over the
past years or during developments which are going on. The measurements can be used to
monitor the noise caused by construction activities (buildings and roads) or to follow the
effects of measures that are taken by enterprises et cetera.

Beside limits, permits, legislation and instructions about noise and noisy activities cities
can work on awareness among their citizens by campaigning and by being a shining
example. Inter alia this can be done by providing the municipal car fleet with quiet tyres
or by a quiet traction such as an electrical or hybrid traction. Cities can avoid organizing
noise events like Red Bull Air races or formula one races in their jurisdiction. Cities can
start special projects addressed to pupils and students on schools and universities to make
pupils and students aware of noise and the noise effects.

Regarding the transportation noise one could say that the measures that can be taken at
local level are not sufficient. The total reduction that can be realized by providing roads
with quiet road surfaces (thin layers), traffic management and other kind of measures
amount 3-5 dB averaged over the whole city. Assuming that the cities administration has
the powers, the resources and the willingness to reduce the noise in their cities.
This means that noise problems cannot be solved at local level only. Other levels like the
national and European level have to take their responsibilities as well, see below. The
question is can we reduce the noise to acceptable levels in Europe? The answer is: yes we
can, but it won’t be easy!

What should be done elsewhere

As mentioned above, cities cannot solve their noise problems on their own. They need
support from the national and the European level. On a national level a lot can be done,
assuming that the powers on national level are complementary to the powers on local
level. Some of the actions that can be done at a national level are:

• Subsidizing and promoting quieter transport (tyres, electric or hybrid traction et

• Promoting soft modes like walking, biking or skating for short distance trips
• Being a good example by doing sustainable (quiet) procurement
• Providing good infrastructure on all fields (physically, electronically etc.)
• Good spatial planning by introduction of buffer zones
• Promote and support of good urban development
• Good Public Transport that is accessible and affordable
• Create awareness among the public, enterprises and other parties in society
• Promoting and subsidizing the construction of houses that are insulated, good
orientated if noise is nearby and grouped in a way that sensitive rooms are located
at the quiet façade
• When needed creation of financial instruments like subsidies, road or track

On European level a lot could be done to lower the noise all over Europe. This by
introduction of more severe limits for cars, trucks, buses, trains, trams, motors, mopeds,

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airplanes and outdoor and other mobile machinery and equipment. For those objects
directives and other regulation exists. Limits are included but most of those limits are very
liberal and cars, vehicles et cetera can comply with these limits very easily. Less
improvements were found the last decades and cars, vehicles, trains, tyres, exhausting
systems et cetera did not become quieter. Beside the poor progress that has been made the
last decades EU limits are tested under conditions which are not according to the real
drive or use conditions. This makes that those subjects are tested in optimized conditions
to comply with the legal limits. I suspect manufacturers that they optimize their products
and the conditions for the test and this do not say anything about the products which are
entering the European market. Bringing these products on the market it is rather easy to
provide the products with other parts which were not tested. In the reselling market of
these products or parts of these products there no limits are present. A car owner could
easily replace his tyres, exhaust or tune his engine which often lead to a higher noise level.
Beside of improving the tests Europe and national governments could make legislation
that is based on life time limits. For instance, during the life of a car (7-10 years) the noise
levels in an “improved test” may not exceed a certain value.
Europe must hurry with tighten the limits for all kinds of products and rolling stock
because technologically seen remarkable reduction can be realized. Cars can be made
quieter as proven by some experiences which were presented within the framework of the
CALM network. Aircrafts, trains and trams too. If the noise caused by tyres, cars and
trucks is reduced with 5-7 dB, which is feasible in a few years, the number of annoyed
people in cities will decrease drastically. This could give a higher overall benefit than
applying local measures.

European Union could launch or strengthen more initiatives for getting quieter, cleaner
and safer cities. This by promoting and supporting Sustainable Mobility as proposed in the
Green Paper on Urban Transport. In this paper an Action Plan for sustainable urban
transport is announced for 2009. The Green paper on Urban Transport does not say a lot
about noise but may be the Action Plan says more about lowering the noise. By supporting
electrical vehicles and soft modes, like walking and cycling, noise can be avoided as well.
All horizontal actions and efforts in Europe, like Urban Transport, Greening the Transport
et cetera hardly include noise from cars and trucks in a systematically way. Noise is often
overlooked in these policies. It is needed that Europe is awakening and becomes more
aware of noise and noise effects.

How to affect European policies

Unless one is a Very Important Person (VIP) such as Al Gore or Bill Clinton or a well
known leading scientist or politician an individual cannot influence the European
legislation drastically because of a lack of time, a lack of knowledge and he or she cannot
foresee when the political window appears which is often necessary to affect upcoming
legislation. In spite of early warning systems and other instruments individuals are often
bound to lose the battle. It is like fighting against windmills like Don Quixote and his
servant Sancho.
The European industry, automotive, rail, aviation is generally spoken well organized on a
European level and they invest a lot of time and money in lobbying towards the European
Commission and Euro parliament and other important European institutions (Committee
of the Regions, COREPPER,….) and is present at all important meetings. That is in poor
contrast with the governments, they do not have much time and do not have much money
even if they have the knowledge. Therefore governments on all levels are organized in
networks like EUROCITIES, CEMR/CCRE, EUROTOWNS, G4 and so on. By joining
these networks the European policies can be affected. Network organisations like
EUROCITIES and CEMR/CCRE. The last one stands for Council of European
Municipalities and Regions, are considered to be serious partners by the Commission and

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the Parliament. Both organisations are often invited to participate in consultation rounds
for new legislation or asked to sent in their position on a certain subject. EUROCITIES is
a network of more than 130 European cities larger than 200.000 inhabitants.
EUROCITIES covers all municipal policy areas like social affairs, economical affairs,
environmental, mobility, e-governance and some more policy areas.

It is advised to operate as joint cities by using the network organizations mentioned afore.
A lot of influence can be realized through participation in the so called expert groups. For
instance the expert groups or working groups installed by the European Commission.
Especially as ‘rapporteur’, author or chairman of such a group remarkable influence can
be obtained. Those groups are often temporary and the objective of these groups is to
write or revise legislation or guidance’s for the EU.

In several cases network organisations are collaborating with other network organisations
or lobby organisations in the European arena. For transport and mobility cooperation
between Transport and Environment or POLIS or other organisations was found because
they shared the same interests in that particular subject. By cooperating with others the
position got stronger so where possible this must be done. Also cooperation with central
governments of member states can be sought. Cooperation with a partner from the
unexpected field impresses the commission the most.

Beside the ways of working mentioned above it is customary to mail, call or write a
member of a commission/working group installed by the European Commission of the
Parliament or have a short meeting. An example of such a commission is the temporary
commission on climate change. By contacting the members of these kinds of commissions
or the chair/rapporteur influence can be realized in the last phase of legislation. It is better
to make efforts in the early phase of new legislation. However, in general it is customary
that the higher the position of a person that must be contacted is, the higher the position of
the lobbying person has to be. If commissioner Dimas must be contacted it is advisable to
sent at least your mayor or another high placed person. For the lobby on CCS (Carbon
Capture and Storage) Rotterdam has sent the mayor and a former prime minister (mr.
Ruud Lubbers) to Andrisz Piebalgs, the commissioner for Energy. And with success!
It is not enough to tell what is wrong or must be changed in the proposals but to hand over
a sound alternative that can be put in the proposed legislation.

It can be concluded that noise levels in European cities are high, much too high and is
affecting the quality of life in cities seriously. Moreover it leads to harmful health effects
in people and it has a significant impact on real estate prices. If measures stay behind the
number of exposed people will increase. Measures are needed, on local, national and
European level as well in a vertical and horizontal way. Cities must apply all possible
measures that can be taken at local level. Quiet road surfaces, insulation, traffic
management, co-mobility and so on, see above. But as mentioned afore this is not
sufficient and measures on national and European level are needed as well. Most of the
cities have problems with funding the measures because of a lack of money. This is not
caused by the financial crisis nor a scarcity of money but councils do not budget these
measures in their municipal budgets. This must be changed by making the council more
aware of the seriousness of long lasting noise and to point them and the policy makers on
the possibilities of including these costs in projects or to find synergy with other
environmental issues like air pollution, energy et cetera.

An important step could be made by raising awareness on all levels. This could be gained
by numerous actions/activities. A brief summary:

- More research in health effects of noise

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- Use of public opinions and the media, politicians are sensitive for this
- Amplifying the lobby by using network organisations like EUROCITIES,
CEMR/CCRE et cetera
- Amplifying the participation in consultations by visiting the meetings and website
- Sending in proposals for better legislation or demonstration projects that show the
possibilities for noise reductions
- By bringing the work done by acousticians, scientists and others involved with noise,
more in publicity.

Quiet Urban Areas are hardly found in cities which is disappointing. Municipalities do
have the powers to designate these type of areas which are especially very beneficial for
their citizens that live in noisy districts.

1. Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC
2. Green Paper on Future Noise, Towards a new culture for Urban Mobility, COM 2007/55,
European Commission….
3. Night noise guidance WHO, 2008
4. Transportation Noise and Cardiovascular Effect (Babisch)
5. Master thesis Valuation of Noise in Rotterdam, Bresser 2008
6. Traffic noise reduction in Europe: health effects, social costs and technical and policy
to reduce road and rail traffic noise, 2008 (CE Delft).
7. Can you hear us? Brochure of T&E 2008
8. Draft report on Gaining Political Interest 2009, by W.Witteveen
9. Cities cannot solve their noise problems solitarily 2009 H.Wolfert
10. MSR reports 2006, 2007 and 2008
11. MBO report Province of South Holland 2007 and 2008/2009
12. Noise Questionnaire EUROCITIES 2008
13. The State of the Art of Economic Valuation of Noise by T.Gjestland 2002
14. Hypertension and exposure to noise near airports, Hyena, Lars Jarup
15. Exposure response relationships for transportation noise..H.M.E. Miedema, and H.Vos,
J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 104(6),December 1998
16. Stilte heeft zijn prijs, J. Udo and S. Kruitwagen, 2006
17. Benefits of Noise Measures, Jabben et all, 2008
18. Bluebook CALM network, October 2007
19. Working Document Working Group Noise EUROCITIES called “Evaluation of the
Environmental Noise Directive” (first stage)
20. Provisional data noise maps (circa data base European Commission)
21. Noise and Health in the Greater Rotterdam Area H.Wolfert

European strategies for noise reduction and noise management in cities 11

Florence, 19th of March 2009

22. Non-acoustical factors in environmental noise by Ian H Flindell, Pieter Jan M Stallen
and Health

The author thanks the organizing committee of the congress ‘European strategies for noise reduction
and noise management in cities’ for getting the opportunity to present this paper during their
congress in Florence. He also thank Mr. JP van Nieuwenhuizen (DCMR EPA) for his editorial

European strategies for noise reduction and noise management in cities 12

Henk Wolfert is working at DCMR EPA, an Environmental Protection Agency in the Greater Rotterdam Area. DCMR EPA
works for 18 municipalities in the Greater Rotterdam Area and the Province of South Holland. Until spring 2007 he was
manager of the Noise Section of DCMR EPA, chairman of the Working Group Noise of the Alliance of Dutch Provinces and
noise expert for CEMR/CCRE another European network organization. Since spring 2007 he works as European Policy
Advisor for the DCMR EPA and the city of Rotterdam. From 2006 he is chairman of the Working Group Noise of
EUROCITIES and member of the EUROCITIES Environmental Forum. He is also member of the expert group of
environmental noise of the European Commission. He is chairman of the congress Noise in the City 2008 (Amsterdam) and
published a lot of articles.