The European Commission has decided today to refer Poland to the European Court of Justice over its failure to comply with its obligations under the Noise Directive (2002/49/EC). The European Green Deal sets a zero pollution ambition for the EU, which benefits public health as well as the environment and strives for climate neutrality. In this context, adopting action plans is necessary to combat noise that is detrimental to human health.
The Polish national law does not guarantee the establishment of action plans, which are required under the Directive regardless of whether noise limit values in the area are exceeded. Action plans for 20 major railway sections and for 290 major road sections are still missing, despite the deadline for adopting such action plans having passed.
Moreover, the national law does not require action plans to include all necessary elements that are provided for in the Directive, in particular a record of public consultations, measures to preserve quiet areas and long-term strategy. Through the public consultations over the action plans the public can verify and have their say on whether authorities take adequate measures to reduce noise levels where they may be harmful, or to prevent existing levels from becoming harmful. This is why, not only action plans need to be adopted, but the national law must require all elements to be included in those action plans.
As Poland has not addressed the concerns set out in the Commission's reasoned opinion, the Commission is referring the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Noise caused by road, rail and airport traffic is the second main environmental cause of premature death after air pollution and its exposure is increasing. It is estimated that noise causes 12,000 premature deaths and contributes to 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease (caused by a narrowing of heart arteries) per year across Europe. It is also estimated that 6.5 million Europeans suffer chronic high sleep disturbance that impairs the cognitive system and produces stress. That is why EU rules on noise require Member States to adopt action plans to reduce harmful noise within major agglomerations, or around major railway lines, roads and airports.
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