Noise guidelines and legislation

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) and its amendment S.I. No. 663/2021 - European Communities (Environmental Noise) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 ( both revise and revoke the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006.

Noise guidelines

In its Environmental Noise Guidelines 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) sets out how noise pollution in European towns and cities is increasing. The guidelines set out how excessive noise, particularly from transport sources (road traffic, railway and aircraft), has negative impacts on our health and wellbeing. 

The WHO study has shown that noise is affecting sleep and cardiovascular and metabolic function. Reducing noise is one of the targets of the EU’s Zero Pollution Action Plan and the Environmental Noise Directive.  

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.

For more information, see the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines.


Noise legislation

The EU Environmental Noise Directive (END), EC 2002/49/EC, is transposed into Irish law as Statutory Instruments: The European Communities (Environmental Noise) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 549/2018) and its amendment S.I. No. 663/2021 - European Communities (Environmental Noise) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (

  • The Environmental Noise Directive (END) requires member states to prepare and publish strategic noise maps and noise management action plans every five years.
  • The aim of the END is to provide a common framework to avoid, prevent or reduce, on a prioritised basis, the harmful effects of exposure to environmental noise. This can be done through the preparation of strategic noise maps and the development and implementation of action plans.

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).

Noise limits

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.