Noise emission by equipment used outdoors

The European Union is creating a single framework to control noise emitted by equipment used outdoors.

Directive 2000/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors. [See amending acts].


This framework Directive harmonises the 9 existing legal instruments on noise emissions for each type of construction plant and equipment, as well as a directive on lawnmowers. The aim is to improve the control of noise emissions by more than 50 types of equipment used outdoors, such as compressors, excavator-loaders, different types of saws, mixers, etc. (listed in Articles 12 and 13 and defined in Annex I).

The aim of the Directive is to promote the smooth functioning of the internal market and to improve the health and well-being of the population by reducing the noise emitted by equipment used outdoors. With a view to achieving this aim, it provides for four types of action (Article 1):

  • harmonisation of noise emission standards;
  • harmonisation of conformity assessment procedures;
  • harmonisation of noise level marking;
  • gathering of data on noise emissions.

The following equipment is excluded:

  • non-powered attachments that are separately placed on the market or put into service (except for hand-held concrete-breakers and picks);
  • all equipment intended for the transport of goods or persons by public road or rail or by air or on waterways;
  • equipment designed and constructed for use by the police or the military.

Articles 4 and 5 set out the obligations incumbent on the Member States with regard to the placing on the market and putting into service of the equipment covered by the Directive. Member States will be responsible for verifying that the Directive’s provisions are being applied. Annex V contains the various checking procedures to be employed.

The manufacturer or the person placing the equipment on the market or putting it into service in the Community must ensure (Annex V, 2) that:

  • they have drawn up a declaration of conformity certifying that each of item of equipment is in conformity with the provisions of the Directive;
  • they have affixed an indelible legible marking to each item of equipment indicating the guaranteed sound power level.

Where a Member State ascertains that equipment does not comply with these conditions, it must withdraw it from the market or prohibit its use (Article 9).

Labelling is compulsory for all items of equipment covered by the Directive and must include:

  • the CE marking visibly, legibly and indelibly affixed to each item of equipment;
  • details of the sound power level Lwa in dB(A) in relation to 1 pW.

The noise emission limits laid down for certain types of equipment involve two stages, so as to enable undertakings to adapt to the new regulations. The emission limits for stage 1 take effect two years after the entry into force of the Directive. More stringent limits will enter into force in stage 2 four years later.

Noise limits are laid down following a general formula:

L = A + B 1g P,

where L is the sound emission limit,
P is a power-related descriptor,
A and B are product-related constants.

This approach, which was previously adopted at the time of the review of Directive 86/662/EEC on earth-moving machinery, avoids unjustified technical modifications.

Responsibility for monitoring the noise emission limits applicable to the equipment is vested in a notified body set up by the Member States. These monitoring controls apply both to the equipment design phase and the equipment production phase. On the other hand, it is not necessary to monitor the design of equipment that is subject only to compulsory marking.

With a view to assessing the impact of the Directive, a procedure for the collection of noise emission data will be established. This information will serve as the basis for devising economic incentives and eco-label awards.

Responsibility for collecting the data will rest with the certification bodies, which will be required to send the Commission a copy of their test reports. The Commission envisages the appointment of the European Environmental Agency to collect and evaluate these data.

As a general rule, undertakings are reluctant to apply the provisions governing data collection for fear that this will burden them with additional costs, while at the same time obliging them to divulge confidential information.

Under Article 17, Member States may take measures to regulate the use of equipment in sensitive areas by restricting the working hours of the equipment.

The existing Directives on noise emissions by construction plant and equipment and by lawnmowers will be repealed by 3 January 2002 at the latest.

The document has ten annexes on the following subjects:

  • definitions of equipment;
  • EC declaration of conformity;
  • method of measurement of airborne noise emitted by equipment for use outdoors;
  • models of the CE marking of conformity and of the indication of the guaranteed sound power level;
  • internal control of production;
  • internal control of production with assessment of technical documentation and periodical checking;
  • unit verification;
  • full quality assurance;
  • minimum criteria to be taken into account by Member States for the notification of bodies;
  • unit verification – model of conformity certificate.

Directive 2005/88/EC

Given that it is technically impossible for some equipment to meet the stage II deadlines for reduction in noise levels, this Directive aims to allow the equipment concerned to be placed on the market and/or put into service in the European Union after 3 January 2006.

The types of equipment concerned are: vibrating rollers, vibratory plates, vibratory rammers, dozers (steel tracked), loaders (steel tracked), counterbalanced lift trucks, paver-finishers, internal combustion-engine concrete-breakers and picks, and lawnmowers, lawn trimmers and lawn-edge trimmers.

This Directive extends the deadline for the Commission to compile its assessment reports to January 2007.


The Commission Green Paper of 1996 on Noise Policy highlighted the increase of noise pollution in urban areas. Some 20% of the population of Western Europe have to endure noise levels judged by the experts as unacceptable. While most external noise is caused by transport equipment, the extent of noise emissions as the result of the use of outdoor equipment is constantly increasing.

Equipment used outdoors enjoys freedom of movement within the European Community. Community policy on the reduction of noise caused by this type of equipment consisted in adopting Directives laying down permissible noise emission levels, placing markings on the equipment indicating the guaranteed noise emission level or laying down noise test codes. This approach has resulted in the adoption of seven directives covering noise emissions by various types of construction plant and equipment as well as one directive on lawnmowers.

The 9 Directives in this field have already undergone certain changes in line with technological progress. The Commission felt that it is now necessary to embark on a new adaptation and to extend the range of equipment covered by means of this framework Directive.



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