Environmental Noise & Planning
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Noise is a deciding factor in many planning applications.
The introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework in March 2012 has completely changed the noise and planning landscape in England. Planning Policy Guidance 24 Planning and Noise (PPG 24) has been superseded by the Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE) which replaces the old Noise Exposure Category system of rating sites for A (not noisy) to D (too noisy for residential use) with a vision to "Promote good health and quality of life through the effective management of noise within the context of Government policy on sustainable development."
This vision should be achieved through the following Noise Policy Aims:
"Through the effective management and control of environmental, neighbour and neighbourhood noise within the context of Government policy on sustainable development: avoid significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life; mitigate and minimise adverse impacts on health and quality of life; and where possible, contribute to the improvement of health and quality of life”.
To achieve these objectives the Noise Policy Statement sets out three noise levels to be defined by the assessor:
- NOEL - No Observed Effect Level . This is the level below which no effect can be detected. In simple terms, below this level there is no detectable effect on health and quality of life due to the noise.
- LOAEL - Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level . This is the level above which adverse effects on health and quality of life can be detected.
- SOAEL - Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level . This is the level above which significant adverse effects on health and quality of life occur.
The Noise Policy Statement considers that noise levels above the SOAEL would be seen to have, by definition, significant adverse effects and would be considered unacceptable. Where the assessed noise levels fall between the LOAEL and the SOAEL noise levels, the Policy Statement requires that:
"all reasonable steps should be taken to mitigate and minimise adverse effects on health and quality of life while also taking into account the guiding principles of sustainable development... .. This does not mean that such adverse effects cannot occur."
Where noise levels are below the LOAEL it is considered there will be no adverse effect. Once noise levels are below the NOEL there will be no observable change. For the present, guidance as to a numerical definition of LOAEL is given by the following Standards:
- BS8233:2014 (Guidance on sound insulation and noise reduction for buildings ) sets out acceptable levels of ambient indoor noise in dwellings.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) document 'Guidelines on Community Noise: 1999' recommends noise criteria for both internal spaces and for external amenity areas.
- BS4142;2014 (Methods for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound) will be expected to be referred to where a development is near to industrial or commercial premises and provides guidance on what noise levels are likely to give rise to adverse comment.
Acoustic Associates will help you navigate through the latest planning legislation and provide a balanced and robust interpretation of both these National and Local planning policy goals. We would normally look to discuss the development project and its particular noise issues with the planning authority before producing our written reports and recommendations so that common ground can be established before determination of the application. For more information about what is involved with industrial or commercial noise assessments, what’s involved and how much this might cost please contact us via your local office.
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