hour traffic is a major source of noise pollution
In spite of existing EU and national legislation
aimed at controlling noise pollution, public concern about the subject
remains high. The European Commission is currently preparing a new Directive
on the assessment and management of environmental noise, with a view to
creating a quieter and more pleasant environment for European citizens.
The newly created CALM network is working to define a strategic plan for
future noise research that will support the transposition of this directive
to the national level and further the ongoing development of a comprehensive
EU noise policy.
According to one estimate, around 20% of the population
of Western Europe suffer from noise levels that experts consider unacceptable.
Noise is defined as unwanted sound - sound that is loud, unpleasant or
unexpected, and the negative effects of noise can range from simple annoyance
to more serious ailments such as high blood pressure, mental stress and
damage to hearing.
European attempts to limit noise have consisted of legislation fixing
maximum sound levels for certain types of vehicles, including cars
and aeroplanes, but while impact assessments show that noise from
individual vehicles has been considerably reduced, the problem is
still with us, thanks to the increase and spread of traffic.
The 1993 Fifth
Environmental Action Programme included noise abatement targets
to be achieved by the year 2000. When this programme was reviewed
in 1995, the Commission announced the introduction of a noise abatement
programme, the first stage of which was the 1996 Green
Paper on Future Noise Policy . It concluded that a more harmonised
approach was called for among the Member States. As a response to
this ongoing problem, a new European Directive on the assessment
and management of environmental noise is now in the final stages
||Turning down the
volume - the CALM network
the support of the European Commission, the CALM
thematic network has been created, aimed at promoting and coordinating
Community noise research. Launched in October 2001, it will operate
for three years and will base its final plan on reports generated
by expert noise working groups and in co-operation with relevant
industrial sectors, research institutions and interested organisations.
Special emphasis will be placed on noise caused by road traffic,
railway transport, aircraft and outdoor machinery, but the network
will also be concerned with the related issues of noise propagation,
noise exposure, and understanding the adverse effects of noise,
especially in cities.
The CALM network coordinator is Josef Affenzeller
of AVL List GmbH
in Austria. AVL List is an independent company developing power
train systems with internal combustion engines, with special expertise
in measurement and assessment systems. Other members of the CALM
network include experts from various member states that are helping
the European Commission in the preparation and implementation of
the new noise policy.
According to Affenzeller, "The basic idea
is to create a strategy plan for Community noise research, to help
make the vision of a quieter Europe a reality." The CALM network
will play an important linking role between industrial and legislative
bodies. The pressure is going to be on industry to live up to the
new restrictions, and only the successful development of new technologies
is going to allow them to do so. CALM will be seeking to identify
research topics based on the most promising technologies in the
field, insuring that Europe's best research resources work in a
coordinated and efficient way to get the desired results in terms
of lower levels of noise pollution.
"The ultimate reward," says Affenzeller,
"will be greater peace and quiet for people living in Europe,
and not just in cities. The new legislation will also have an impact
on rural areas, checking the noise emitted by road transport, trains,
aeroplanes and a variety of outdoor machinery, from machinery used
in construction right down to lawn mowers."
Those looking for more information on community
noise issues can soon visit the CALM network's interactive website