In Europe, the END provides the primary legislative framework for achieving noise reduction. The directive offers a common approach to avoiding and preventing exposure to environmental noise through the reporting of noise mapping and action planning, thereby reducing its harmful effects and preserving quiet areas. It is important to note that the directive does not set limit values but reporting thresholds. In particular, the END requires Member States to:

  • Produce strategic noise maps on a 5-year basis for all major roads, railways, airports and urban agglomerations, using harmonised noise indicators. These are roads with more than 3 million vehicle passages per year, railways with more than 30 000 train passages per year, airports with more than 50 000 movements per year and urban areas with more than 100 000 inhabitants.
  • Determine the number of people exposed to each of the above noise sources, inside and outside urban areas, as well as large industrial installations inside urban areas using 5 dB interval bands at Lden ≥ 55 dB and at Lnight ≥ 50 dB1.
  • Adopt action plans based on noise mapping results, with a view to preventing and reducing environmental noise, in particular in areas where exposure levels can induce harmful effects on human health.
  • Select and preserve areas of good acoustic environmental quality, referred to as ‘quiet areas’, to protect the European soundscape.

Environmental Noise Directive – Relevant legal texts

Current consolidated version 29/07/2021 – Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise

Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/1967 of 11 November 2021 setting up a mandatory data repository and a mandatory digital information exchange mechanism in accordance with Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (Text with EEA relevance)