External costs are costs that are not borne by the polluters. Excessive noise results in costs because it affects in particular the health of those affected and reduces the value of properties: demand for homes in noisy areas is less than in quiet areas. In a functioning housing market this weaker demand results in lower rental and property prices. However, this difference is not borne by the polluter, i.e. transport users; it must be borne by the property owner.
In order to better apply the polluter pays principle, it is necessary to know the external costs.
Source: Federal Office for Spatial Development / Federal Office for the Environment "External costs of transport in Switzerland"
Road traffic - the main cause of external noise costs – is responsible for costs in excess of CHF 1.1 billion per year. The costs for rail transport are CHF 74 million. The total noise pollution from road and rail generates uncovered on-costs of CHF 1.2 billion annually. This equates to CHF 160 per capita.
In Switzerland, costly road traffic noise abatement measures have been implemented for some years. Road traffic volumes are constantly rising, particularly in the centres of Swiss conurbations. This goes some way towards countering the progress made in road noise abatement. For this reason, the current state is assessed as negative.
Cost estimates for the other noise sources and their effects have not yet been compiled. The total external costs of noise must therefore be even higher.
The initial situation comprises rail and road traffic volumes for the survey year. The noise pollution situation is calculated as best possible from this. Depending on cost areas, bases such as emissions functions, wind conditions, population density, noise abatement walls etc. are necessary. In the next step, the resulting effects and impact are determined according to cost area, e.g. the number of additional ill or injured people or fatalities or the number of homes affected by noise. In order to be able determine these effects, noise-effect-relationships, survival statistics and further bases are used. Finally, the impacts are quantified in monetary terms. In order to do this, specific cost ratios are determined per accident, injury, illness and year of life lost, plus loss of rental income are combined.
The database used includes use of the FOEN noise database, SonBase. The investigation was repeated in 2010, though with revised methodology.