Q&A: new rules for reducing noise at airports 

Noise from planes can be a nuisance for people living near airports ©BELGA_DPA_A.Dedert  

The noise of planes flying over your house can get on your nerves, not to mention prove damaging to your health. MEPs will vote on 16 April on new rules regarding noise from airports, including a proposal to preserve local communities' ability to have a say on noise restriction measures.

What would change with the new rules?

Local communities would become more involved. The new rules foresee that noise reduction measures should be based on objective, measurable criteria through an open, transparent process involving local communities and other stakeholders.

Is noise at airports really such an issue that new rules are needed?

It is a problem affecting all member states, since the same planes take off and land all over Europe. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB can cause hearing loss and sound pressure near airports often peaks at well over 100 dB.

Will this make flying more expensive?

It shouldn’t. Noise reduction is already a priority for aircraft producers when developing a new type. Aircraft already in service are also often retrofitted with noise reduction kits, so air travellers should not be hit with higher tickets.

Will local authorities still be able to have their say on noise restriction?

That’s very important. The Parliament specifically removed the initial proposal to give the European Commission the right of review of all new rules as MEPs believe that final decisions on noise reduction should lie with local authorities. This is in line with the principle of subsidiarity, which says the EU can only act when member states are unable to achieve the desired result. 

What are the next steps?

If the legislation is adopted, the regulation will enter into force two years after publication in the EU's official journal.