Noisy drivers in Ghent could have their cars confiscated

Mayor of Ghent Mathias de Clercq from the Flemish Liberal Party
Mayor of Ghent Mathias de Clercq from the Flemish Liberal Party Copyright Euronews/Meabh Mc Mahon
By Meabh Mc Mahon
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Drivers who breach noise limits in Ghent could have their vehicles confiscated. It's part of a bid to battle noise pollution in the Belgian city.


If you live in the centre of Brussels, hearing noisy motorbikes, speeding cars and "boy racers" with exhausts that sound like gunfire is a common theme.

For one mother-of-two, Sally, the issue is serious and it is keeping her up at night.

"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic," she said. "It is really stressful and I worry about my kids. I often call the police but it is obviously not their priority unfortunately for us.'

Sally is not the only one. According to the World Health Organization, 113 million people around Europe are impacted by noise pollution due to day and night traffic exceeding 55 decibels. It doesn’t just cause sleep disturbance and stress, but hearing loss, tinnitus and heart disease. The EU has legislation about noise but according to the organisation Eurocities, it needs to be implemented and updated.

"The World Health Organization came forward with guidelines in 2018 putting forward new limits for noise and defining a new harmful limit for noise. What we need to see now is an update to the environmental noise directive," Heather Brooks from Eurocities told Euronews.

She wants to EU to put pressure on cities and governments to implement action plans.

Ghent, a vibrant city in the northwest of Belgium has a plan. Drivers who breach noise limits will have their vehicles confiscated for at least 72 hours and must pay for towage and storage. The new regulation was inspired by locals protesting.

"I have nothing against driving your car, but you have to have a good attitude and not to not terrorising people because it's most of the time in the night. And it's very important that our citizens can have a good sleep," Mathias De Clercq, Mayor of Ghent told Euronews.

The mayor says the measures are working as he has fewer complaints now but the challenge for police is catching people in the act.

Meanwhile, back in Brussels, a petition to flag noise pollution to politicians is gaining traction.

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