The National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (NSCA), an environmental protection charity, has called on the agency to meet the requirements of the EU Environmental Noise Directive (END).

Mary Stevens, NSCA noise specialist, said: “Managing traffic noise is not easy. A programme of low noise surfacing is one of the crucial tools available to help reduce the pervasive impact of transport noise on our quality of life, and to meet the requirements of European legislation.

“We hope that obligations under the END will serve as a driver to ensure that future targets to quieten our roads are met.”

The directive requires countries to map noise along major roads, railways and airports and draw up action plans to manage and reduce it if necessary to lessen the negative impact on people.

The first round of maps and action plans were due for completion by the end of last month with the plans to tackle noise hotspots due to be implemented in major cities next summer.

In its 2006-2007 report published last month the Highways Agency, which manages the country’s network of motorways and trunk roads, reveals it did not meet a ministerial target to treat at least 110 lane kilometres of concrete road surface with lower noise surfacing.

It acknowledged “we performed slightly worse on noise” but it also pointed out it had met or exceeded all but one of its targets and is working to reduce the impact of roads on the environment.

Chief executive Archie Robertson said in a statement: “”We know it’s vital to balance the demands of road users with a sustainable future, and to make the best use of existing road space.”

The NCSA welcomed the agency’s progress on other targets, including air quality, thought it urged more challenging targets in future.

David Gibbs

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