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A joint effort between the environment ministry and the ministry for equipment, transport and housing to reduce transport-related noise will begin next year.

Encompassing both preventive and remedial measures, the two ministries seek to combat noise ‘black spots’ created by the “development of the road and rail networks and poorly-managed urbanisation”. According to Environment Minister Dominique Voynet, almost two million French people at about 3,000 sites suffer under excessive transport noise.

On the preventive side, Voynet announced:

  • the systematic use of less noisy road covering materials by the construction industry
  • provision for local municipalities to introduce restrictions on heavy lorries through built-up areas
  • provisions for local municipalities to re-direct heavy lorries by constructing bypasses, with or without tolls
  • new rules on building close to roads designated as “noisy”
  • research into further reductions in heavy lorry engine noise, tyre noise and road covering materials
  • traffic calming zones
  • traffic reduction
  • complementary activities such as modal shift projects (moving people from cars to less noisy and less polluting forms of transport)
  • research into reductions in noise emissions from rail braking systems

In addition to preventive measures, the Government has committed funds to mitigate the effects of existing noise black spots. For rail noise reductions at source, 100 million francs (£9.75 million) will be available each year for ten years. Reductions at source for France’s national road network will be funded to 150 million francs (£14.6 million) each year for ten years.

The money will primarily be spent on anti-noise walls, complemented by insulation of building facades where necessary. Installation of anti-noise walls will begin in 2000, with at least 200,000 homes targeted for protection by the end of the year. Night noise black spots will be given priority in the programme’s early stages but some day-time sites that suffer from the very highest noise levels will also be tackled early on.

Voynet has also pledged to keep the French public informed throughout, with lists of sites chosen for remedial work being made available on local and national levels.

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