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News > Press Releases 2012 > To the subject-matter of the noise protection act

To the subject-matter of the noise protection act

14. 12. 2012

Ombdusman stated that by the failure to discuss the subject-matter of the bill sufficiently with the public, its quality, in addition to democratic values, suffered.

Ombudsman put forward substantial comments on the intended subject-matter since the law would represent a crucial change in the existing concept of the protection of public health against noise. This fact is admitted even by the sponsor of the bill. Since the Ministry of Health repeatedly referred in the bill to legal institutes used in “developed EU countries”, the ombudsman considered it suitable to note that there is a habit in “developed countries” to pre-discuss such a crucial change to legal regulation with both the expert and the non-expert public in order to achieve a broad social consensus and hear out those who may be affected by the change in the legal mode (e.g. preparation of the new air protection act may serve as an example of good practice). However, this was not the case of the presented bill.

Although the sponsor mentioned various “presentations for the public”, it is clear that they really consisted only in one-sided familiarization of attendees with the prepared bill. Apparently, no broader discussion about the new concept of the protection of persons against noise had taken place because its evaluation was absent from the bill. The sponsor tried to substitute it by repeated references to discussions with the Deputy-ombudsman (who has been interested in this issue for a long time), whom he labelled as a “legitimate representative of the public”. The ombudsman objected to that noting that neither his Deputy nor him could be possibly regarded as spokespersons of all civic associations and citizens who felt to be affected by noise because they simply did not have all their experience from all the specific cases handled before authorities, courts or directly with the generators of noise.      

The ombudsman stated that by the failure to discuss the subject-matter of the bill sufficiently with the public, its quality, in addition to democratic values, suffered. As a random example, he mentioned that in case of action plans that are supposed to become the main instrument for asserting the protection of public health in the future, their legal form, binding effect, sanctions for non-fulfilment and especially the participation of persons affected by noise from a source in question are not resolved. Regarding the newly set noise zones for traffic noise, there is not a single mention of necessary compensation to owners of existing property, for whom the inclusion in the D noise zone will practically mean a construction close. Additionally, it is completely inadmissible that the specification of the content of key terms such as a “typical flight day” or “extraordinary or short-term exposure to noise”, the understanding of which will be decisive for the scope and the content of powers of public health protection bodies, be left to the executive and implemented by means of an executive regulation. Such a decision has to be made by the lawmaker. What the ombudsman also considers ill-conceived is the complete exclusion of noise from establishments providing services from the mode of protection of public health. This noise may have a permanent and health-damaging character, and the intended subject-matter deals with the question of competence of municipalities with respect to establishments in a completely inadequate way. Likewise, concerning noise from construction activities, it can be objected that larger constructions are in no way short-term matters (construction may last several months or even years). It is not clear at all how a building office should intervene if a builder fulfils the set measures but public health is demonstrably put in danger or even harmed regardless.

Therefore, the ombudsman recommended that the Ministry of Health withdraw the bill and discuss it duly with the expert and the non-expert public, especially enabling the public to raise objections, and incorporate the evaluation of objections in the text of a new draft bill.
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