The European Communities (Environmental Noise) Regulations 2018 (S. I. No 549 of 2018) transpose EU Directive 2002/49/EC4 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. The Directive aims to provide a common framework to avoid, prevent or reduce, on a prioritised basis, the harmful effects of exposure to environmental noise. For the purposes of these Regulations, environmental noise means unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities, including noise emitted by means of transport and from sites of industrial activity.
The Regulations set out a two-stage process for addressing environmental noise. Firstly, noise must be assessed through the preparation of strategic noise maps for areas and infrastructure falling within defined criteria, e.g. large agglomerations, major roads, railways and airports. Secondly, based on the results of the mapping process, the Regulations require the preparation of noise action plans for each area concerned. The fundamental objective of action plans is the prevention and reduction of environmental noise.
The Regulations assign primary responsibility for both noise mapping and action planning to local authorities. While a number of other bodies also have noise mapping functions, they will be carried out on behalf of the local authorities concerned. The Regulations designate the Environmental Protection Agency as the National Authority for the purposes of the Regulations. The Agency's role includes supervisory, advisory and co-ordination functions in relation to both noise mapping and action planning, as well as reporting requirements for the purpose of the Directive. Further information on strategic noise maps and action plans is available at the following link: https://gis.epa.ie/EPAMaps/.
The Regulations provide for strategic noise maps and action plans to be made available to the general public for consultation and I would encourage the public to participate in this consultation process.