Methodological Aspects of Noise Valuation in Ex-ante Evaluations of Major Road and Railroad Projects
H Nijland, MNP, BE
The paper focuses on the assessment of noise as part of the appraisal of new (rail)roads in European countries. It shows (1) that methodologies differ, (2) there is a gap between theory and practice and (3) that not all noise impacts are dealt with.
Noise is a major environmental effect of traffic. About 20 % of the European Union's population, or close to 100 million people, have been estimated to suffer from noise levels considered by health experts to be unacceptable, that is levels where most people become annoyed and sleep is disturbed, and where adverse health effects are to be feared. A wide variety of studies have examined the question of the external costs of transport noise to society. The estimates range from 0.2% to 2% of GDP (European Commission, 1996), which represents an annual cost to society in the European Union somewhere between 20 and 200 billion Euro.
So noise is economically important. Therefore, it stands to reason that noise should be part of any ex ante evaluation of major infrastructural projects, where ideally all effects of the new infrastructure are assessed (and often expressed in monetary terms). This paper focuses on the assessment of noise as part of the project appraisal of new (rail)road infrastructure in different European countries. The paper shows, firstly, that guidelines for monetizing noise do exist in most western and northern European countries. In the southern and eastern part of Europe, noise impacts are usually not monetized. Secondly, the paper shows that if noise is monetized, different methodologies are used. The study shows, thirdly, that not all noise effects are dealt with, which leads to an underestimation of the price of noise. Fourthly, the study shows a gap between the theoretical guidelines and their applications in practice. Even if guidelines on monetization of noise impacts exist, their application falls short.
Association for European Transport