Assessment and management of environmental noise

Directive 2002/49/EC on the assessment and management of environmental noise

The Environmental Noise Directive (END) aims to:

provide a common basis for combating the harmful effects of exposure to environmental noise* across the EU;
gradually introduce measures
establishing common noise indicators* to measure the long-term exposure of humans to environmental noise throughout the day and sleep disturbances
obliging EU countries to draw up strategic noise maps* to serve as a basis for action plans* to prevent and reduce noise
implementing the national action plans
for public information and consultation, especially about the national action plans.

Key Points

The directive seeks to control noise:

in built-up areas;
in public parks or other quiet areas in urban areas;
in quiet areas in open country;
near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and areas.

It does not apply to noise:

caused by the exposed person him or herself, or by neighbours;
from domestic activities;
in work places;
inside means of transport; and
from military activities in military areas.

Noise indicators and their assessment methods

2 indicators are used when compiling strategic noise maps:
Lden is an indicator of the overall noise level during the day, evening and night which is used to describe the annoyance caused by exposure to noise;
Lnight is an indicator for the sound level during the night used to describe sleep disturbance.

Their values are defined using the common assessment methods set out in Annex II to the directive.

The European Commission had to establish these common assessment methods. Until this was done, EU countries could use their own methods, provided they complied with Annex II.

Other indicators may be used for acoustical planning and noise zoning and in the special cases listed in Annex I.
Dose-effect relations* would be introduced in Annex III by future revisions to the directive to enable the assessment of the effect of noise on populations.

By 18 July 2005, EU countries had to inform the Commission of any relevant limit values in force or under preparation, expressed in terms of Lden and Lnight and, where appropriate, Lday (day-noise indicator) and Levening (evening-noise indicator) for:
road-traffic noise;
air-traffic noise;
rail-traffic noise; and
industrial noise.

Strategic noise mapping

Strategic noise maps must satisfy the minimum requirements laid down in Annex IV.
EU countries had to:
inform the public of the bodies responsible for making and approving strategic noise maps by 18 July 2005;
inform the Commission by 30 June 2005 of
the major roads with more than 6 million vehicle passages a year
railways with more than 60,000 train passages per year
major airports and
towns and cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants;
make and approve strategic noise maps showing the situation during the preceding year near these infrastructures, towns and cities by 30 June 2007;
inform the Commission of all the towns and cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants and of all the major roads and major railways within their territories by 31 December 2008;
make and approve strategic noise maps showing the situation during the preceding year for those towns and cities, roads and railways by30 June 2012.
Noise maps must be reviewed, and revised if necessary, every 5 years.

Action plans

Action plans must meet the minimum requirements set out in Annex V.
Measures within the plans must:
address priorities identified by the exceeding of any relevant limit value or by other criteria chosen by the EU countries; and
apply in particular to the most important areas as established by strategic mapping.

EU countries had to:
inform the public of the bodies responsible for drawing up and approving the action plans by 18 July 2005;
draw up action plans:
by 18 July 2008, for
major roads with more than 6 million vehicle passages a year
railways with more than 60,000 train passages per year
major airports and
towns and cities with over 250,000 inhabitants;
by 18 July 2013, for all major towns and cities, major airports, major roads and major railways.

Action plans must be reviewed when a major development occurs affecting the existing noise situation, and at least every 5 years after the date of the approval of those plans, according to amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1010.

Public information

EU countries must ensure that:

the public is consulted and that the results are taken into account before action plans are approved;
strategic noise maps and the action plans are available and disseminated to the public in line with Annexes IV and V and the EU’s rules on public access to environmental information;
the Commission receives the information from strategic noise maps and summaries of the action plans within 6 months of the dates laid down in Articles 7 (Strategic noise mapping) and 8 (Action plans), as referred to in Annex VI. The Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency, must develop a digital information exchange mechanism, by means of implementing acts.

EU countries’ noise maps and action plans can also be consulted in the European Environment Agency’s ReportNet system. According to amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1010, ReportNet is a ‘data repository’, an information system containing environmental noise information and data made available by the EU countries.


Every 5 years, the Commission submits a report on the directive’s implementation to the European Parliament and the Council.

Access & Background

It has applied since 18 July 2002 and had to become law in the EU countries by 18 July 2004.

For more information, see:

Environmental Noise Directive (European Commission).


Environmental noise: unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities, including noise emitted by means of transport, road traffic, rail traffic, air traffic, and from sites of industrial activity, as defined by Directive 96/61/EC.
Noise indicator: a physical scale to describe environmental noise, which has a relationship with a harmful effect.

Strategic noise maps: maps designed to assess the overall noise exposure in given areas arising from different noise sources or for overall predictions for those areas.
Action plans: plans designed to manage noise issues and effects, including noise reduction if necessary.
Dose-effect relation: the relationship between the value of a noise indicator and a harmful effect.


Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (OJ L 189, 18.7.2002, pp. 12-25)

Successive amendments to Directive 2002/49/EC have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive in accordance with Article 11 of Directive 2002/49/EC (COM(2017) 151 final, 30.3.2017)

Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the European Environment Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Codified version) (OJ L 126, 21.5.2009, pp. 13-22)

Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC (OJ L 41, 14.2.2003, pp. 26-32)


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