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Noise Directive – pubs and clubs will suffer

December 5, 2002 12:00 AM

The proposed Noise Directive yesterday received its final reading in the European Parliament and is due to be voted on today.

Liz Lynne, West Midlands MEP and European Liberal Democrat and Reformist Party spokersperson on health and safety, has spent months working on this directive as a member of the Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee.

Commenting in advance of the vote, she said:

“We have come a long way from the ridiculous proposals of the Socialist Rapporteur earlier this year, which would have decimated industry across the EU. I particularly welcome the fact that now hearing protection will be taken into account and that EU countries will be able to decide whether to measure average noise exposure over a daily or weekly period, depending on the specific circumstances of each industry.

“However, I am not at all happy about its implications for the entertainment and leisure industries.”

Liz had earlier this year negotiated for an amendment to be passed calling for a five-year delay in the Directive’s implementation in the music and entertainment sectors. This would be to allow time for the Commission to consult the industry and produce a report on the impact the directive would have, and suggest proposals either for a special form of regulation or to exclude the sectors from the directive altogether.

However, in a stand-off between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers (the legislative body in which government ministers from all EU countries vote), that amendment eventually fell. Instead, the Directive now merely insists that EU countries draw up a code of conduct providing “practical guidelines” on implementing the Directive in the music and entertainment sectors.

“Due to a lack of support from other parties, this compromise is the best we can get under the circumstances. But I am disappointed that the Parliament delegation did not hold firm to its original amendment. I believe we could have won the argument.

“The 1986 Noise Directive has never been fully implemented in pubs and clubs owing to the fact that it is woefully impractical. Yet we are now pressing ahead with a new one without even conducting a proper study about what was wrong with its predecessor.

“Local authorities are the ones who will have the unenviable task of implementing this. All the practical guidelines in the world won’t improve inept legislation.”