Malta, the noisiest country in the European Union, will have a specific law to deal with the problem, according to an Environment Ministry spokesman.
The spokesman said the Commission for Noise Pollution, set up in 2016, would be presenting “a comprehensive Bill” that would include proposals submitted by various entities.
As Eurostat again ranked noise pollution problems in Malta as the worst within the EU, the Times of Malta asked for a list of the proposals made by the commission to address the issue. No details were supplied but the spokesman insisted the new Bill would ultimately see the setting up of a “regulatory framework aimed at minimising noise inconvenience”.
When announcing the setting up of the commission, Environment Minister Josè Herrera had said its main role was to study prevailing problems and propose solutions.
Confirming a draft Bill was in the pipeline, commission chairman Francis Debono insisted the issue was not an easy one to solve and that “long-term solutions” were needed.
This, he said, would also require a change in people’s mentality, acknowledging it was no easy feat.
“There are some issues to address and new concepts to implement that some might not be ready to address. It’s not an easy process but it is one that is evidently needed,” Mr Debono said.
At present different entities are responsible for different aspects and that needs to change
He added that while most of the difficulties were easy to pinpoint, finding solutions was not as straightforward as many assumed.
“Coming up with rules and regulations is the easy part but we need to make sure we have a system in place that works. Take enforcement, for instance, at present different entities are responsible for different aspects and that needs to change,” Mr Debono said.
He pointed out that a more holistic approach was required.
Sitting on the commission are representatives of the Environment Ministry, the police, the Local Government Department, the Environment and Resources Authority, the Environmental Health Department, the Occupational Health and Safety Authority, the Malta Tourism Authority, the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, the Economy Ministry and the Veterinary and the Phytosanitary Regulation Department.
According to Eurostat data for 2016, more than a quarter of the Maltese population (26.25%) complained about noisy neighbours and streets, the highest proportion across the EU.
The figure was higher than the previous year’s 24.8%. The EU average for 2016 was 17.9%.
According to the data, the older population, mainly those aged 65 and over, were more likely to report experiencing such problems and even more so if the person making the report lived alone.
Noise pollution has long been an in issue in Malta, with most complaints being in relation to traffic.
The Times of Malta reported in August that the European Commission was considering whether to open infringement proceedings against Malta over its failure to tackle excessive noise pollution from traffic.