The European Commission is to propose new noise and energy efficiency standards for tyres with a blanket exemption for SUVs, according to draft rules seen by Transport and Environment (T&E), the sustainable transport campaign group.

T&E transport noise campaigner Nina Renshaw said: "The EU has an embarrasing record on cutting noise from road transport.  Although noise standards are already in place they are totally ineffective: cars are no quieter now than in the 1970s. Today's proposals do not go far enough to address this worsening problem, and giving concessions to Europe's noisiest vehicles is totally incomprehensible."

T&E added that, apart from the SUV exemption, half of all car tyres sold today already comply with the proposed new noise limits.

The tyre proposals also set new standards for rolling-resistance of tyres, which affects energy efficiency and CO2 emissions. T&E criticised the standards for being unambitious, because once again 50% of the market already meets the second (final) stage of the proposed limits and tyres for SUVs, which the group regards as the most inefficient vehicles, will get an exemption.

"If the average tyre sold in Europe was as good as the current state of the art, there would be at least a 5% reduction in overall CO2 emissions from cars," T&E claimed.

The European Commission proposal on new tyre standards is due to be published on Friday, 23 May.