Environmental noise

The Environmental Noise Directive (END) 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise, sets a common approach to the management of noise in order to avoid, prevent or reduce the harmful effects due to exposure of environmental noise. It is the main EU instrument to identify noise pollution levels and to trigger the necessary action through the compilation of strategic noise maps for major roads, railways, airports and agglomerations. Following the noise maps, noise action plans should be developed to prevent and reduce noise where necessary and preserve the noise climate where it is good.

The Directive is transposed separately in each Member State of the EU into local legislation. In Malta, the END is transposed through S.L. 549.37​, the “Assessment and Management of Environmental Noise Regulations, 2004”, L.N. 193 of 2004.  ERA is the competent authority under the environmental noise regulations.

The Directive applies to environmental noise to which humans are exposed; in particular built-up areas, in public parks or other quiet areas in an agglomeration, in quiet areas in open country, near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and areas; and in areas affected by noise from designated major roads, railways or aircraft transport sources as well as industrial sites. Hence, the strategic noise maps and noise action plans are to be drawn up for areas within the designated agglomerations affected by noise emitted by sources such as roads, industry and airports, or areas in the vicinity of major roads across the country. The results of the strategic noise maps allow us to identify and assess the number of people living in dwellings who are exposed to a particular noise level at their most exposed building façade.

The Directive does not cover workplace noise, neighbourhood noise, construction noise, entertainment noise, noise nuisance, fireworks noise, consumer product noise and noise transmission between dwellings. A document providing more information about the Implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive​ in Malta has been prepared by external consultants on behalf of ERA.

Strategic Noise Maps

The purpose of strategic noise mapping is to:

      (a)  provide information to the public and decision makers on noise exposure locally, nationally and internationally;

      (b)  develop action plans for the purpose of managing noise exposure; and

      (c)   assist the European Commission in future development of European noise policy.

The END sets out specific information on the results of the strategic noise maps that are reported to the European Commission every five years. The third round of strategic noise maps​ has also been compiled by external consultants, making use of data provided by various stakeholders. These noise maps have been developed for base year 2016 and cover all Arterial and Distributor roads (Major Roads with more than 3 million vehicle passages per annum) and all other Arterial, Distributor and Local Access Roads within Malta’s Noise Agglomeration. The Strategic Noise Mapping of industrial noise sources was undertaken for all IPPC licensed industrial sites (industrial sites of a certain capacity) within the Malta Noise Agglomeration.  Noise maps were also compiled for the Malta International Airport​ as it was found to have an impact in terms of noise exposure on the Malta Noise agglomeration, even though it is located just outside the boundary of the agglomeration area.

Agglomeration Boundary

The extent of the Noise agglomeration was delineated together with the R1 strategic noise mapping exercise , using the population data from National Statistics Office census, as well as land use and building extent datasets. The agglomeration definition was then used for the R2 strategic noise mapping of agglomeration roads, industry and aircraft, since at the time, the population within the agglomeration fell below the 250,000 threshold required for mapping under the first round.

The delineation for the agglomeration was not revised for the third round and was retained for the current reporting round due to the fact that there were no significant changes to the extent of the urbanised area to warrant a re-delineation of the agglomeration. The total area of the R3 agglomeration is 54.1 km2, the same as in R2, whilst the total R3 population within the agglomeration is 277,600, compared to 270,000 for R2.​

 

Environmental noise agglomeration definition

​Major Roads

 
A major road is defined as a regional, national or international road, designated by the competent authority, which has more than three million vehicle passages a year.

The updates for the R3 mapping include the addition of roads newly constructed or altered since the R2 mapping, and the revision of traffic flow data in line with the Transport Malta transport model or actual traffic counts. From this updated inventory, it was possible to identify sections of road with an annual flow above 3 million vehicles, with an annual average daily traffic flow greater than 8,219, as major roads.

The total length of R3 major roads is 293.4 km, compared with 292 km mapped as R2 major roads.

Source

No. of links

Total length of links (km)

Major roads > 3 M veh/yr

1,050

293.4

Non-major < 3 M veh/yr

821

245.3

 

1,871

538.7


 
Population Exposure Assessment

Set out below are summary tables estimating the population exposure for Round 3 Major Roads, total area exposed and number of dwellings that lie within the 5dB noise level contour band for Lden and Lnight for major roads in the Maltese Islands.

 Noise Scenario

Noise Category (dB)

R3 Population
(including agglomerations)

      Area (km2)

R3 Dwellings

Lden

>55

39,900

45.3

24,200

>65

15,600

13.1

10,100

>75

1,600

2.9

1,100

Noise Scenario

Noise Category

R3 Population

(outside agglomerations)

R3 Population

(inside agglomerations)

R3 Population (including agglomerations)

Lden

55-59

3,500

12,000

15,500

60-64

2,300

6,500

8,800

65-69

2,000

4,800

6,900

70-74

1,900

5,200

7,200

≥75

400

1,100

1,600

Total

10,200

29,700

39,900

Lnight

50-54

2,500

7,000

9,400

55-59

2,000

4,800

6,700

60-64

2,000

5,500

7,400

65-69

600

1,600

2,200

≥70

0

0

0

Total

7,100

18,800

25,800

Note: Due to rounding of underlying results to nearest 100, the values in the table may not always add up as expected. 

The table below shows the results of the population exposure analysis (estimated number of people rounded to hundreds) living in dwellings that are exposed to noise in 5dB bands for all relevant roads inside the agglomeration for Round 3.


 

Noise Scenario

Noise Category

R3 Population

Lden

55-59

23,200

60-64

14,600

65-69

21,600

70-74

6,700

≥75

1,100

Total

67,200

Lnight

50-54

15,200

55-59

21,900

60-64

7,900

65-69

1,600

≥70

0

Total

46,500

 Noise Action Plan

The following actions are to be implemented in stages within each Member State:

  • Determine the exposure to environmental noise, through noise mapping, by common  methods of assessment;
  • Ensure that information on environmental noise and its effects is made available to the public;
  • Adopt action plans, based upon noise-mapping results, with a view to preventing and reducing environmental noise where necessary and particularly where exposure levels can induce harmful effects on human health and to preserve environmental noise quality where it is good.
 
The first Noise Action Plan​ was prepared in accordance with the Environmental Noise Directive. The Noise Action Plan was issued for public consultation whereby a number of stakeholders and the general public were consulted.

Currently, ERA is in the process of updating the Noise Action Plans for Major Roads and the Agglomeration, which will provide an overview of the requirements and obligations of the regulations, present a summary of the results of the strategic noise maps and illustrate actions which responsible authorities intend to take in the coming five years.

 The main target is to have an integrated noise management approach, which is tackled in a twofold manner:

a) Protection of the future noise climate – i.e. areas where we need to preserve, and

b) Reduction of the existing noise climate where necessary – i.e. areas where we need to reduce noise.​