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Euronoise 2018: Regulating the acceptability of noise nuisance in an area-oriented way: research on a promising policy concept in Dutch environmental and planning law



  • Lecture: Regulating the acceptability of noise nuisance in an area-oriented way: research on a promising policy concept in Dutch environmental and planning law
  • Authors:
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  • Summary:
    This article addresses future changes in the Dutch system used by government bodies in the al-location of rights for causing noise nuisance. The article presents results from a recent practical study on a promising policy concept, called environmental distribution policy. With this con-cept, noise nuisance can be allocated and controlled ‘area-oriented’, instead of with rules that orient only on a source and on the location of the activities that experience noise nuisance. The Environment and Planning Act, the upcoming Dutch law that regulates activities in the physical environment, expands the possibilities for decentralized government bodies to allocate ‘noise nuisance’. Especially municipalities will have the freedom to work with acceptability standards that they can contextually fill in. They can make decisions about the acceptability of noise nui-sance that for example is caused by industrial activities. In the Act the policy concept environ-mental distribution policy is introduced. This is the ideal concept that can combine the issues of area-oriented goals, space for effects on the environment and the regulation of for example noise nuisance. The authors researched the functioning and added value of the concept in an expert meeting. In this article, the authors argue for flexibilization of noise regulation by creat-ing space for environmental distribution policy in EU and national laws by adjusting the di-rective relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. Furthermore, the ar-ticle describes how the concept environmental distribution policy can help to examine choices and to make decisions relating to the controlling of noise nuisance in an area-oriented way. This assessment will be useful in various situations in Europe, for example concerning port ar-eas, urban areas, infrastructure, airport noise and construction noise. The Environment and Planning Act, the upcoming Dutch law that regulates activities in the physical environment, expands the possibilities for decentralized government bodies to allocate ‘noise space’. Especially municipalities will have the freedom to work with acceptability standards that they can contextually fill in. They can make decisions about the acceptability of noise nuisance that for example is caused by industrial activities. In the Act the policy concept ‘usage space’ is introduced. This is the ideal concept that can solve the issues of ‘how much’, ‘where’ and ‘acceptability’ of for example noise nuisance. The authors researched the functioning and added value of the concept in a range of impact tests and an expert meeting. On these results the authors have already published in Dutch journals. The preliminary research has received two awards by Dutch juries. \nIn this article, the authors argue for flexibilization of noise regulation by an acceptability standard that can be contextually and locally filled in. The authors also argue for EU harmonization of this norm by adjusting the directive relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. Furthermore, the article describes how the concept ‘usage space’ can help to examine choices and to make decisions relating to the allocation of noise nuisance. This assessment will be useful in various situations in Europe, for example concerning port areas, urban areas, infrastructure, airport noise and construction noise.
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Corresponding author
  • Name: Mr Roel Sillevis Smitt
  • e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Country: Netherlands