Today in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Broughan introduced his Private Member’s Bill, the Noise Pollution (Management and Abatement) Bill 2019. The Bill seeks to amend the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Act 2019 and the Environmental Protection Agency 1992 in order to make the Environmental Protection Agency the body in charge of setting the noise abatement objectives for Fingal County Council (the new Competent Authority for noise management at Dublin Airport). It also provides for the publication of a number of reports that will make the whole area around the management and abatement of noise pollution (aircraft and noise nuisances more generally) more transparent and effective.
Noise has been identified as one of the most significant environmental causes of ill health by the World Health Organisation, second only to air pollution. Due to the increasing knowledge around the health impacts of noise pollution (including increased risk of stroke, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc) the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe developed a set of guidelines around exposure to noise, protecting human health from the impact of noise and there are European strategies working towards addressing noise pollution. The World Health Organisation (WHO) set out specific noise levels and indicators for varying areas producing noise pollution but Deputy Broughan decided to not be so prescriptive in a noise pollution bill, particularly with changing technologies and knowledge in the area.
As Deputy Broughan, supported by the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers (OPLA) began to examine the legislative environment in Ireland regarding noise pollution and the reporting of, management and abatement of that noise pollution (be it from road, rail, construction, aircraft, etc.), they found that the legislative landscape was actually quite robust but that it was the enforcement or monitoring of those laws that seemed to be lacking. Already, Local Authorities must consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when they are setting out their action plans in respect of environmental noise for their areas and for road, rail and air transport facilities etc. and the EPA can give direction in this area, such as requiring them to take certain noise mitigation actions. This Bill requires the EPA to report regularly on its use of those powers to the Government and the Oireachtas and brings transparency to its monitoring actions, which will benefit the general public and us as public representatives.
Deputy Broughan concludes “I hope that by introducing this Bill that it will be accepted by the government or Fianna Fáil and that it can be progressed to bring some respite to those citizens suffering due to Noise Pollution. Of course, the Greens had an opportunity to address this important area while in government but never actually got around to it. Technology is moving on and the health impacts of noise must be taken into account when we look at increasing noise pollution levels.”