A look at Brussels noise rules

Photo credit: Petar Starčević

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Maithe Chini, The Brussels Times, writes that noise can have negative effects on our health and tells her readers that in Belgium–in the city center and in the countryside–noise is considered a nuisance. And she notes that in the Brussels-Capital Region the rules are even stricter. For example, someone can be fined if neighbors are being disturbed from nighttime until the early morning, because from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. “your neighbors are legally allowed to call the police.”  But in Brussels, noise complaints are allowed until 7 a.m. We also learn that a noise disturbance risks the noise maker to a fine or a prison sentence, but for the offense to be considered criminal the “perpetrator must have had the intention to disturb the peace or was negligent.”

Chini goes on to describe the different types of noise that can be considered unlawful and notes that electronically amplified music, whether indoors or outdoors, has its own framework. Nightclubs are allowed to have music that is louder, but if neighbors complain the clubs will have to adjust the sound levels. Overall, the legislation is stricter in “more sensitive” areas and in the evening and night. There are also greater restrictions on Sundays and public holidays.

There are exceptions to the noise ordinances, e. g. transport which includes air, road, rail and shipping, air-sports activities, worship activities, public defense, school activities. The exceptions do include noises that can be most disturbing but Chini does not discuss the potential adverse impacts of these noises nor does she discuss whether the government should look further into these exceptions.

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