Going Dutch at the House of Commons

Last night, at a prestigious ceremony in London, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Noise Abatement Society (NAS) presented the European Soundscape Award for the first time to raise awareness and recognise initiatives that help reduce noise levels.

Noise pollution affects many Europeans, and for some, it is not only a nuisance – it can also trigger serious diseases. Across Europe, at least 100 million people are exposed to damaging levels of noise just from road traffic. Exposure to unwanted noise can cause stress and interfere with sleep, rest and study. Moreover, prolonged exposure can also trigger serious illnesses such as hypertension and heart disease.

The EEA and NAS have teamed up to raise awareness about the impacts of noise and to reward European initiatives in the field of noise control or soundscape management.

Gloria Elliott, Chief Executive of the Noise Abatement Society, said

“The European Soundscape Award recognises important initiatives undertaken anywhere in Europe, to improve the aural environment for the benefit of all. It serves to encourage and disseminate good practices that can assist other European countries embarking on aural improvement programmes, especially in urban environments.”

Colin Nugent, Project Manager for Noise at the European Environment Agency, added

“The EEA and NAS received 16 entries from 12 countries, covering a wide range of noise-related topics. Bringing to the fore products, campaigns, innovations and schemes from across Europe that offer creative solutions to the problem of noise, this award is a beacon for innovation and commitment within the noise mitigation community.”

Winner: The Dutch province of Gelderland and the municipality of Wijchen

The Dutch province of Gelderland and the municipality of Wijchen won the European Soundscape Award 2011 for its sustainable and integrated traffic noise reduction solution in the village Alverna. The winning project has combined a range of innovative measures to reduce noise levels. The measures consist of:

Moving and reducing the number of traffic lanes

  • Sinking the road by 0.5m
  • Constructing low-level sound barriers of 1m on each side of the road
  • Using special ‘quiet’ asphalt 
  • Reducing the speed limit from 80 to 50 km/h in Alverna

These measures meant planners were able to achieve the same effect as installing the usual unattractive, 4m-high noise barriers.The project also included a tree planting scheme to create attractive pedestrianised areas. In addition to the noise benefits, the full package of measures also increased road safety, reduced fuel use, helped improve the air quality and the quality of life in the village.

Highly Commended: NSG’s – the Dutch Noise Abatement Society – Electric Heroes Campaign the to encourage the uptake of electric scooters in The Hague and Zaanstad

NSG, the Dutch Noise Abatement Society wanted to tackle one of the top three most complained about noise in Holland – scooters and mopeds. They launched a campaign targeted at 16-24 year old to entice them to switch to electric scooters, with the “Electric Heroes – Go smart, Go electric” initiative. The E-scooter hardly produces any noise and is far cheaper to run than traditional petrol/diesel ones. Young people were encouraged to sign up for the 2 day e-scooter test-drive, produce a movie of the experience, upload it, and be in with a chance of winning an e-scooter if the public voted their video the best. The NSG is continuing to raise awareness of e-scooters and the residual benefits to city dwellers. ‘Electric Heroes – Go smart, go electric’ campaign

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