The strategic noise maps will help the authorities pinpoint which areas of the country are worst affected by noise from nearby roads, airports and industrial activities. Once these hot spots have been identified, local authorities will draw up an action plan designed to make life quieter for people living in these locations.

The regulations that come into force from today are based on an EU directive on noise pollution. The Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 are the means by which Ireland chose to meet its obligations under this directive.

Announcing that the regulations were now in force, Irish environment minister Dick Roche said: “We live in an increasingly busy and noisy world, and noise can often be overlooked as an insignificant environmental issue. The reality is that it can be a real and significant problem, and change is needed to protect the quality of life for people who live in major urban areas or near national infrastructure such as major roads and airports.”

Although the Environmental Protection Agency will have overall responsibility for ensuring the regulations are implemented, much of the work will be done by local authorities.

Mr Roche said that local involvement was the key to ensuring that the new rules worked to the advantage of the public. “As a quality-of-life issue for so many people the transparency, including public participation, in the new noise mapping and action planning process was an absolute priority.

“The new regulations allow people who live in areas affected by environmental noise to have a genuine voice in influencing appropriate responses. These regulations have the potential to impact positively on the lives of many people in this country in the years ahead, and I want them to work effectively.”

Jess McCabe

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