Report outlines hefty bill to cut down on Swiss noise pollution

Traffic in central Zurich in 2016 © Keystone / Ennio Leanza
This content was published on February 4, 2020 - 16:21

Around one million Swiss residents suffer from harmful noise pollution close to their homes, a federal report has revealed. The bill to deal with excessive noise is set to run into billions of francs. 

The total cost of reducing noise pollution in Switzerland is estimated at CHF6 billion ($6.2 billion), according to a survey by the Federal Office for the Environment published on Tuesday. One in seven people in Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million, has to put up with excessive noise pollution, particularly from road traffic, it said.

Of the total estimate, over CHF4.3 billion has already been invested or will be invested in the short term.

Around two-thirds of the clean-up bill is being spent on upgrading main roads by laying noise-reducing asphalt and by introducing traffic and speed reduction measures. Some 5% goes towards installing barriers along roads and motorways.

The installation of special double-glazing represents almost 40% of all cantonal and communal expenditure on noise reduction measures. 

The report said that since the entry into force of the law against noise pollution 30 years ago, 270,000 Swiss residents have benefited from protection measures. Improvements have been made since 2008, it said. From 2013, the annual number of people receiving protection measures rose from 5,000 to 20,000, and resulted in lower annual costs per person.

The Swiss League Against Noise welcomed the new federal report, while urging the authorities to continue to implement direct protection measures close to the source of harmful noise.

It said cantons that were slow to implement measures – such as Zurich, Bern, Thurgau and Appenzell Inner- and Outer Rhodes – should be sanctioned by withholding relevant federal subsidies.

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