Your company may be the victim of a complaint from a neighbour. In this case, an official agent from the municipality or Bruxelles Environnement (IBGE) will take measurements inside and outside your neighbour's property. If you exceed the limits, you must find solutions or face the consequences.
Noise standards in the Brussels-Capital Region
Noise standards are defined in two legislative texts:
More specifically, these standards are based on:
- day of the week (weekday, Saturday, Sunday, public holiday)
- time of day (day, evening, night)
- the area where the company is located. These zones are based on a map called the PRAS (regional land use plan) which sets out, among others, the predominantly residential zones, residential zones, mixed zones, high mix zones, administrative zones, industrial zones.
Note that this general legislation is not applied:
if your environmental permit sets out stricter standards which must be respected. Please see the Environment Brussels website for a more detailed overview of the noise-related obligations (FR) to be considered by the holder of an environmental permit
if this is one of the exceptions such as sites, shooting ranges, worship or educational activities, static transformers, etc.
Other legislation also relates to the issue of noise:
- the well-being at work code, which applies if you have staff
- the police regulations in your municipal zone
- manufacturing standards for certain products (cars, mowers)
- standards concerning music in public and private establishments (new regulation as from february 2018 (FR))
Finding solutions and complying with legislation
Usually, the agent takes measures to find out the cause of the problem. Is a machine or rolling stock causing the problem? Is it the time of day when the noise takes place? Etc.
It is best if a solution can be found using common sense. However, noise problems and vibrations are sometimes complex to analyse, and acoustic specialists may be required. They are equipped to understand the problem and offer solutions, if these are technically possible. See the list from greentech.brussels for noise engineering and consultancy companies located in the Brussels Capital Region (Select "noise" as the activity sector then "advice/engineering and refine the search if necessary).
Before any purchase, it is a good idea to consider any noise issues. Consider the least noisy alternative, even whether there are "anti-noise" options available for the machine or equipment. The location of a fixed machine or equipment must be chosen carefully.
Please see the Environment Brussels website for:
- general information on noise (FR)
- best practice guides (FR) for a series of activity or machine sectors
To conclude, be aware that many complaints can be avoided if contact is made with neighbours. Firstly, before opening your shop or workshop; and then, after a few weeks of activity. In fact, sound pollution and vibrations have a subjective side. We feel less inconvenienced when we know that the noise will stop at a certain time or will only last for a few minutes.