The EPA is the national authority for overseeing the implementation of the Environmental Noise Regulations
The European Communities (Environmental Noise) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 549/2018) both revise and revoke the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006.
In its Environmental Noise Guidelines, the World Health Organisation (WHO) sets out how noise pollution in European towns and cities is increasing. It also notes that excessive noise, particularly from transport sources, is a health risk that contributes to cardiovascular diseases and metabolic function (changes to some chemical reactions in the body).
The main purpose of the WHO guidelines is to provide recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to environmental noise originating from various sources: transportation (road traffic, railway and aircraft), as well as wind turbines and leisure activities (such as using headphones to listen to music).
The implementation of the WHO guidelines is currently being negotiated at EU level. The development of any future National Noise policy in Ireland will be influenced by the outcome of this process. The Department of Environment, Climate Action and Communications will be the lead authority for this policy area.
The EU Environmental Noise Directive (END), EC 2002/49/EC, was transposed into Irish law as Statutory Instrument: S.I. No. 140/2006 - Environmental Noise Regulations 2006.
In 2018, the WHO published guidance to policymakers on noise levels above which it considers that adverse effects on health and sleep occur. These WHO guidance levels are below the Environmental Noise Directive (END) mandatory noise level reporting thresholds of 55 dB (Lden) and 50 dB (Lnight).
Although the END includes a requirement to report and publicise any noise limit values in place, it neither introduces noise limit values nor requires noise limits to be introduced within member states or by competent authorities. The recent publication of the amended Annex III of the END, establishing assessment methods for harmful effects of environmental noise, did not change this approach.
In view of the 2018 WHO guidance and the flexibility afforded by the END to allow countries to report noise levels below the mandatory reporting requirements, due consideration of feasibility, costs and preferences should be given before guidance on values or noise limits is introduced (by the relevant department). These considerations are acknowledged in the WHO guidelines.