Flanders limits decibels at rock concerts

The Flemish government is introducing a new noise limit for music festivals. By 2012 noise levels will not be allowed to exceed 100 decibels.

Flemish Culture minister Joke Schauvliege (Christian democrat) drew the ire of the music industry when she first launched her proposals to cut noise levels at concerts and festivals.

The sector said that her proposals were unworkable. Consultations followed leading to the present compromise. Ms Schauvliege told newsmen: "We've achieved a balance between the music experience and limiting damage to hearing."

Ms Schauvliege is sticking to the 100 decibel norm, where the music industry had pressed for 103 decibels, but there is some relaxation in the way that noise levels are measured as well as to other compulsory measures.

Noise levels will be measured over the period of an hour and not a 15 minute period as originally proposed. Party organisers will now not have to hand out ear plugs, though these remain compulsory at outdoor music festivals.

The new regulations apply starting 2012, but it's only in 2013 that the industry will risk any fines.