Creating a quiet environment

News Published 25 Apr 2012 Last modified 20 Feb 2017
2 min read
Do you know someone who is doing something to create a healthy soundscape in your working environment, neighbourhood or municipality—implementing innovative solutions to noise problems or creating quiet green areas where the sounds of birds and bees can be enjoyed? If so, encourage them to apply for the European Soundscape Award 2012 which is open for submission from 25 April, the International Noise Awareness Day.

Across Europe, at least 100 million people are exposed to damaging levels of noise from road traffic alone. Exposure to unwanted noise can cause stress and interfere with basic activities such as sleep and study. Prolonged exposure can also trigger illnesses as serious as hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Giving people the opportunity to enjoy greater access to quiet, natural areas can on the other hand improve mental and physical health.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Noise Abatement Society (NAS) want to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy soundscape and to reward European initiatives in the field of noise control or soundscape management. Any product, campaign, innovation or scheme offering a creative solution to a noise problem can be nominated for the award. The award will be presented at a ceremony in London on 6 November 2012.

For more information on how to submit an application, visit the European Soundscape Award webpage. The deadline for applications is 7 September 2012.

Last year’s winners

The Dutch province of Gelderland and the municipality of Wijchen won the European Soundscape Award 2011 for their sustainable and integrated traffic noise reduction solution in the village of Alverna. The winning project combined a range of innovative measures to reduce noise levels. The measures consisted 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 pedestrian areas. In addition to the noise reduction benefits, the full package of measures also increased road safety, reduced fuel use, helped improve air quality and quality of life in the village.

The runner-up award was presented to the Dutch Noise Abatement Society for the ‘Electric Heroes – Go smart, go electric’ campaign to encourage the use of electric scooters in The Hague and Zaanstad.

About the International Noise Awareness Day

The Centre for Hearing and Communication founded International Noise Awareness Day to promote awareness of the dangers of long-term exposure to noise. This year the event takes place on 25 April.

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