Assessment of noise: technical advice note

This Technical Advice Note (TAN) provides guidance which may assist in the technical evaluation of noise assessment.

Appendix 1: Legislative Background, Technical Standards and Codes of Practice


The Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006

The Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006 transpose and implement Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. This directive is also known as The Environmental Noise Directive ( END). The regulations came into force on 5 th October 2006 and apply to environmental noise to which humans are exposed, in particular in built up areas, public parks or other quiet areas in an agglomeration, near schools, hospitals, and other noise sensitive buildings and areas. The regulations apply to noise from road railway and airport sources, as well as industrial noise. The regulations do not apply to noise that is caused by the person exposed to the noise, noise from domestic activities, noise created by neighbours, noise at work places, or noise inside means of transport or due to military activities in military areas.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

Since April 1st 1996, by virtue of the Environment Act 1995, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the 1990 Act) has given Scottish Local Authorities considerable and wide-ranging powers to tackle noise nuisance. S. 79 of the 1990 Act imposes a duty on local authorities to take reasonable steps to investigate complaints of nuisance and to inspect their area from time to time to detect statutory noise nuisances. Where a local authority is satisfied that the noise emitted from any premises is prejudicial to health or constitutes a 'nuisance', it must serve an abatement notice on the person responsible for the noise. This notice may require the abatement of the nuisance or prohibit or restrict its occurrence or recurrence, and may also require the execution of such works and the taking of such steps as are necessary for this purpose. Local Authorities can exercise these controls at any time if satisfied there is a statutory nuisance regardless of the terms of any planning permission.

Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004

Part 5 of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 contains provisions in relation to noise nuisance and, in particular gives, local authority's additional powers to deal with noise nuisance and tackles the problems of night noise in dwellings.

The Statutory Nuisance (Appeals) Scotland Regulations 1996

These Regulations make provisions as regards Scotland with respect to appeals to the sheriff against abatement notices served under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. They also amend the Control of Noise (Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 1983.

The Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993

This Act amended Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 by placing additional definitions in the list of statutory nuisances in section 79 of that Act. The definitions related to nuisance caused by vehicles, machinery and equipment in the road.

The Control of Pollution Act 1974

The Control of Pollution Act 1974 (the 1974 Act) was largely repealed by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. However, those sections that are extant give local authorities powers to control noise from construction sites, and noise from loudspeakers in streets. The Act also introduced the concept of the Noise Abatement Zone ( NAZ) which provides a more sophisticated means of controlling, and, where justified, reducing noise from commercial and industrial premises, particularly in areas of mixed development. Although NAZs have been criticised for their complexity, and although few have been designated in recent years, the powers available in such zones, for example, the serving of a nuisance abatement notice remains useful in tackling some types of urban noise problem. Noise from construction is also controlled by the Act.

Codes of Practice under the Control of Pollution Act 1974

Several codes of practice are approved under Section 72 of Control of Pollution Act 1974 for the purpose of providing guidance on how best to minimise or reduce noise. Where relevant to the noise in question, Local Authorities must consider these codes of practice when taking enforcement action under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The content of the codes is not however statutory and has no greater status than any other relevant source of best practice. To date four Codes of Practice have been introduced:

  • Noise from Audible Intruder Alarms, HMSO 1982,
  • Noise from Ice Cream Van Chimes Etc. HMSO 1982,
  • Noise from Model Aircraft HMSO 1982, and
  • Noise Control on Construction and Open Sites ( BS 5228:1997, Parts 1 and 3 HMSO 1984; Part 4 HMSO 1986)

Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force on 6 April 2006 and repeals the existing Noise at Work Regulations 1989. The regulations will apply to all parts of industry, with a two year transitional period for the music and entertainment sectors until 6 April 2008. For this sector the existing Noise at Work Regulations will apply until 6 April 2008.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires employers to take a number of steps to protect employees from exposure to excessive noise.

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

Section 54 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 allows the police to take action against the 'playing of sound devices'. This includes powers to confiscate such equipment as evidence in court. The police also have wide-ranging powers that can be used to deal with noise under the common law offence of a breach of the peace.

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

This Act gave police supplementary powers of entry and seizure of vehicles and sound equipment. It provides a definition of 'sound equipment'.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998

In addition to giving local authorities further powers to deal with nuisance and anti-social behaviour, this Act also amended the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, by giving police a specific power of seizure in relation to sound proofing devices causing annoyance.

Pollution and Prevention Control Act 1999

The Act defines 'emissions' as the direct or indirect release of substances, vibrations, heat or noise from individual or diffuse sources in an installation into the land, air or water. Noise and vibration are included within this definition.

Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000

The IPPC regime implemented in Scotland by the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000, (The PPC Regulations) made under the Pollution and Prevention Control Act 1999, employs an integrated approach to regulating certain industrial activities and installations that may cause pollution or have other environmental effects through 'emissions'. These activities include major process industries, waste management and the intensive farming of certain livestock. IPPC requires that installations should be operated in such a way that all appropriate preventative measures are taken against pollution, in particular with the application of Best Available Techniques ( BAT). BAT includes both the technology used and the way in which the installation is designed, built, operated and decommissioned. The requirement to apply BAT is as relevant to emissions of noise and vibration as it is to other emissions.

The PPC Regulations designates the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) as the 'Regulator' responsible for enforcing the regime. As part of its role as regulator, SEPA produces guidance for use in enforcing the PPC Regulations. SEPA has issued guidance on the control of noise and vibration at PPC installations, which is used when considering applications for, and inspections of PPC installations. For non Part A processes the control of noise is exercised by the relevant local authority.

The Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (as amended)

Section 5 of Schedule 5 to Regulation 9 of this legislation covers the noise standards for new building work. Guidance to the standards to be met are set out in Section 5 of the Technical Handbooks and are available in two volumes, Domestic buildings and Non-domestic buildings. These cover the provision of sound insulation of separating walls and floors between attached buildings, such as flats and terraced houses. Internal noise in dwellings is also covered by the standards and guidance, as are certain types of residential buildings. The Handbooks also provide guidance on how the noise standards apply when an existing building is altered, extended or converted.

Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 - Temporary Use of Land

Under Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992, certain temporary activities enjoy permitted development rights. These allow the land (not buildings) to be used for not more than 28 days (14 days in the case of caravan sites or open-air markets) in any one calendar year without the need to apply for planning permission. Where they judge circumstances warrant it a local authority may make a direction under article 4 of this Order which withdraws the general permission and so requires anyone wishing to institute the particular use to make a specific planning application. If an article 4 direction is to remain in force for more than six months, then the approval of the Scottish Ministers is necessary. Compensation may be payable if permission on a subsequent planning application is refused, or is granted subject to conditions.

Noise Insulation (Scotland) Regulations 1975 and Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973

At present where noise from a new or altered road exceeds a certain trigger level, and meets other qualifying criteria, the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 provide for insulation work to be carried out or a grant to be made in respect of that insulation work. Altered" road is defined within the Noise Insulation (Scotland) Regulations 1975 ( NISR). Under the NISR, the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 also confers a right to compensation for depreciation in the value of land caused by public works. Public works do not include aerodromes.

Technical Standards and Guidelines

BS 4142: 1997 Method for rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas

This standard is only concerned with the rating of the noise of an industrial nature, based on the margin by which it exceeds a background noise level, with an appropriate allowance for the acoustic features present in the noise. Its primary purpose is as a planning tool in assessing the likelihood of complaints arising in given circumstances.

The method described in the document requires the measurement or prediction of equipment or plant noise (specific noise level) and a correction for the acoustic character and intermittency to give a rating noise level such that a comparison can be made between the rating level (predicted/measured and any relevant corrections) and the background noise level. To assess the likelihood of complaints, the measured background noise level is subtracted from the adjusted rating level, the greater the difference the greater the likelihood of complaints.

  • A difference of around + 10 dB or more indicates that complaints are likely.
  • A difference of around + 5 dB is of marginal significance.
  • If the rating level is more than 10 dB below the measured background noise level then this is a positive indication that complaints are unlikely.
  • BS 4142 has been successfully used to assess the impacts of industrial noise in many cases, but has suffered from being used in circumstances where it was never intended to apply, and care must be taken in ensuring it is used appropriately within its stated remit.

Particular problems can arise if BS 4142 is pedantically used to assess the impact of existing industrial noise on proposed new noise sensitive land use. In such cases, one of the main problems is that BS 4142 is an external based assessment of internal noise impacts; so even though a new noise sensitive development can incorporate mitigation using its design, layout and construction so that acceptable noise levels can achieved within the development, it can rarely alter the outcome of any BS 4142 assessment of the existing industrial noise as control of this source is outside the scope of the scheme.

BS 5228 Noise and Vibration control on construction and open sites

Despite the publication of a substantially revised version in January 2009, BS 5228:1997 is still the approved code of practice under The Control of Noise (Codes of Practice for Construction and Open Sites) (Scotland) Order 2002. Consequently, the 1997 version of this standard provides a definitive guide to the control of noise from construction and open sites for use with the powers to under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, it consists of the following Parts:

  • Part 1. Code of Practice for Basic Information and Procedures for Noise Control (revised in 1997)
  • Part 2. Guide to Legislation for Noise Control Applicable to Construction and Demolition, including Road Construction and Maintenance (revised in 1997)
  • Part 3. Code of Practice for Noise Control Applicable to Surface Coal Extraction by Open cast Methods (revised in 1997)
  • Part 4. Code of Practice for Noise and Vibration Control Applicable to Piling Operations. (This Part is a revision issued in 1992).
  • Part 5. Code of Practice Applicable to Surface Mineral Extraction (except coal) Sites (1997).The standard is a substantial document providing methods and data for predicting the noise and vibration levels to be expected from particular construction activities using a limited range of plant and equipment selected from the tables of data given for typical or specified circumstances.

Reference in BS 5228 is made to the need for the protection of persons living and working in the vicinity of construction sites and other open sites, as well as for the protection of those working on the sites, from noise and vibration. It recommends procedures for noise and vibration control and aims to assist architects, contractors and site operatives, designers, developers, engineers, local authority environmental health officers and planners, regarding the control of noise and vibration. It draws attention to the provisions in the Control of Pollution Act 1974 relating to the abatement of nuisances caused by noise and vibration. The standard offers examples of good practice, although adherence to its guidance does not in itself confer immunity from prosecution.

However, under Environmental Impact Assessments and for planning purposes i.e. not in regard to the Control of Pollution Act 1974, the 2009 version of BS 5228 is applicable. The 2009 version of the standard consists of Parts 1 and 2 for noise and vibration respectively. The 2009 document incorporates the 2005 and 2006 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) updates on construction plant noise and provides several examples of noise level and exposure matrices that have been used on major infrastructure projects across the UK.

BS 6472: 2008 Part 1 Guide to Evaluation of Human Exposure to Vibration in Buildings (Vibration sources other than blasting)

  • This standard specifies a method for measurement and assessment of intermittent, impulsive and non- blast induced vibration. Weighting curves related to human response to vibration of buildings are provided. Consideration is given to the time of day and use made of the building under occupancy and guidance given on the magnitudes of vibration at which 'adverse comment' may be expected.

BS 7385 Evaluation and measurement for vibration in buildings. Guide to damage levels from ground-borne vibration

BS 7385: Part 2: 1993 "Evaluation and measurement for vibration in buildings" gives guidance on the levels of vibration above which building structures could be damaged. The standard states that there is a major difference between the sensitivity of people in feeling vibration and the onset of levels of vibration which damage the structure. Furthermore it states that cracking commonly occurs in buildings whether they are exposed to vibration or not. For the purposes of BS 7385, damage is classified as cosmetic (formation of hairline cracks), minor (formation of large cracks) or major (damage to structural elements). Guide values given in the Standard are associated with the threshold of cosmetic damage only, usually in wall and/or ceiling lining materials.

BS 7445 Pt 1,2 & 3: Description and measurement of environmental noise

Part 1 of BS 7445 defines the basic quantities to be used for the description of noise in community environments and describes basic procedures for the determination of these quantities. The methods and procedures described in this British Standard are intended to be applicable to sounds from all sources, individually and in combination, which contribute to the total noise at a site. At the present stage of technology this requirement is best met by adopting the equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level as a basic quantity. Based on the principles described in this British Standard, acceptable limits of noise can be specified and compliance with these limits can be controlled. This British Standard does not specify limits for environmental noise.

Part 2 of BS 7445 describes methods for the acquisition of data which provide descriptors that enable:

a) A description of the environmental noise in a specified area of land to be made in a uniform way;

b) The compatibility of any land-use activity or projected activity to be assessed with respect to existing or predicted noise.

Using the data as a basis, authorities may establish a system for selecting the appropriate land use, as far as levels of noise are concerned, for a specified area, or the sources of noise - existing or planned - which are acceptable with respect to land use, existing or planned.

This British Standard does not deal in detail with calculation methods to obtain data pertinent to land use.

This part of the standard does not give guidance on the estimation of the overall uncertainty of the results.

Part 3 of the BS 7445 series, lays down guidelines for the specification of noise limits and describes methods for the acquisition of data that enable specific noise situations to be checked for compliance with specified noise limits. This part of BS 7445 does not specify noise limits.

BS 8233: 1999 Sound insulation and noise reduction for buildings. (Code of practice)

This British standard is a code of practice that gives recommendations for the control of noise in and around buildings, and suggests appropriate criteria and limits for different situations. Lower and upper design noise limits are recommended for 'good' and 'reasonable' conditions, the code of practice advises that " normally only the upper noise limit will need to be decided". The noise the limits in the standard applies to, is assumed to be steady and anonymous, such as that due to road traffic, mechanical services, or continuously running plant, and should be the noise level in the space when unoccupied during normal hours of use. The time period, T, should be appropriate for the activity involved ( e.g. 07:00 to 23:00 for living rooms and 23:00 to 07:00 for bedrooms).

The standard provides a suggested sequence for the planning and design of noise sensitive development and simple and rigorous methods for calculating the transmission of noise from the exterior to interior of a building

World Health Organisation WHO 'Guidelines for Community Noise' 1999

This document represents a consensus of expert opinion on the impacts of noise and recommends guideline values for avoidance of particular effects e.g. annoyance and sleep disturbance. The introductory chapter on Guideline Values notes that "In the following, guideline values are summarized with regard to specific environments and effects. For each environment and situation, the guideline values take into consideration the identified health effects and are set, based on the lowest levels of noise that affect health (critical health effect). Guideline values typically correspond to the lowest effect level for general populations, such as those for indoor speech intelligibility. By contrast, guideline values for annoyance have been set at 50 L Aeq(16h) or 55 L Aeq(16h), representing daytime levels below which a majority of the adult population will be protected from becoming moderately or seriously annoyed, respectively."

The WHO document recommends the following "In dwellings, the critical effects of noise are on sleep, annoyance and speech interference. To avoid sleep disturbance, indoor guideline values for bedrooms are 30dB L Aeq(8h) for continuous noise and 45 dB L Amax for single sound events. Lower levels may be annoying, depending on the nature of the noise source. The maximum sound pressure level should be measured with the instrument set at "Fast". The document also advises that" To protect the majority of people from being seriously annoyed during the daytime, the sound pressure level on balconies, terraces and outdoor living areas should not exceed 55dB L Aeq(16h) for a steady, continuous noise. To protect the majority of people from being moderately annoyed during the daytime, the outdoor sound pressure level should not exceed 50 dB L Aeq(16h)."

The WHO guideline levels have been set at the threshold of detectable effects in the population. There is no evidence that anything other than a small minority of the population exposed at the WHO guideline noise levels finds them to be particularly onerous in the context of their daily lives.

World Health Organisation ( WHO) Night Noise Guidelines ( NNG)

A WHO working group reviewed available scientific evidence on the health effects of night noise, and derived health-based guideline values. Considering the scientific evidence on the threshold of night noise exposure indicated by L night as defined in the Environmental Noise Directive (2002/49/EC), L night value of 40 dB should be the target of the night noise guideline ( NNG) to protect the public, including the most vulnerable groups such as children, the chronically ill and the elderly. L night value of 55 dB is recommended as an interim target for countries which cannot follow NNG in the short term for various reasons and where policy-makers choose to adopt a stepwise approach. These guidelines may be considered an extension to the previous World Health Organization ( WHO) guidelines for community noise (1999). Although these guidelines are neither standards nor legally binding criteria, they are designed to offer guidance in reducing the health impacts of night noise based on expert evaluation of scientific evidence in Europe. It is important to note that thresholds for observed effects are based on the no observed adverse effect level ( NOAEL). This is a concept from toxicology, and is defined as the greatest concentration which causes no detectable adverse alteration of morphology, functional capacity, growth, development or lifespan of the target organism. For the topic of night noise (where the adversity of effects is not always clear) this concept is less useful. Instead, the observed effect thresholds are provided: the level above which an effect starts to occur or shows itself to be dependent on the exposure level. It can also be a serious pathological effect, such as myocardial infarctions, or a changed physiological effect, such as increased body movement.

Codes of Practice

National Farmers Union Code of Practice of Bird Scarers

This code of practice advises on the types of scarer available and alternatives to reduce the need for such devices. Recommended noise controls include use only between sunrise and sunset (not before 6.00 a.m. if sunrise is earlier), firing no more than four times per hour, liaison with other farmers, who may also be using them to limit the noise in any one locality, siting as far as possible from noise sensitive buildings and the use of noise absorbent shields.

Institute of Acoustics Good Practice Guide on Noise from Pubs and Clubs

In 1994, the (then) Noise Council surveyed members of its founding bodies and identified that there was a demand for a code of practice that would provide guidance on how to assess and deal with noise problems from pubs and clubs. The Institute of Acoustics ( IOA) then set up a working party comprising environmental health officers, acoustic consultants and, initially, members of the pub, club and entertainment industries to examine the issue. Objective noise level based criteria and performance standards have been dropped from the code although a "working draft on criteria, measurement, guidelines and other relevant information" was included in an annex to the last version of the draft guide.

Noise Council Code of Practice on Environmental Noise from Concerts 1994

This code of practice addresses environmental noise control at concerts and similar large music events involving high powered amplification when held in sporting stadia, arenas, open air sites and within lightweight buildings. Various guidelines and criteria are described. The code is not designed to address the question of environmental noise arising from discotheques, clubs and public houses.

The recommended noise limits contained within the Code of Practice for events held between the hours of 09.00 and 23.00 hours vary depending on the type of venue and the number of event days per year.

At the time of the publication of the Code in 1994 there was little information available about the impact of concerts in urban venues other than sports stadia for up to 3 days a year, consequently the recommended levels from other urban venues e.g. parks etc were set as the same as for a rural venue. Since 1994 there have been many examples of other urban venues being used for concerts for up to 3 days with Music Noise Levels ( MNLs) the same as for an urban arena or stadia.

The code is clear in stating that there was no uniform agreement that music noise has to be inaudible after 23:00 hours and that this was recommended as a precautionary measure. Defra commissioned research in 2006 which included asking a representative sample of the population (in England and Wales) to rank the impacts of entertainment noise occurring infrequently for more than an hour after 23:00 hours. Given this scenario it was clear that the subject's response was not that the music noise must be inaudible in order to be acceptable. Instead the majority of subjects were prepared to tolerate a modest degree of music noise intrusion for extended periods after 23:00 hours, provided it did not occur frequently. Consequently, it is suggested that where entertainment noise is likely to occur after 23:00 hours for more than three nights a year, the recommended "inaudible" criterion could continue to be used.

Code of Practice on Noise from Organised Off Road Motor Cycle Sport 1994

This Code of Practice was produced by the Noise Council in association with other organisations including Auto Cycle Union and the Amateur Motor Cycle Association. It advises on noise controls on enduro/ grass track racing, motocross, rallycross/sand track/ trials/ trial cross and beach cross. Also specified are different maximum noise limits for machines competing in various types of event. The method of noise measurement has to comply with The Official Federation of International Motor Cyclist tests.

Code of Practice on Powerboat Racing and Water-ski Racing produced by the British Water Skiing Federation 1999

This code describes the main sources of boat noise and addresses the range of skiing disciplines at club and tournament level. It provides guidelines for minimising the impact of noise from water skiing on the surrounding community, including factors such as the noise output of the boats, course layout, hours of operation, the number of boats in use at any one time, screening of noise, the siting and use of public address systems, and how to control the effect of cars arriving at, and leaving from events. The maximum permissible "pass-by" noise levels from individual boats varies from 75 dB L Amax at 25 metres from the shore for recreational, tournament and 'barefoot' skiing, to 105 dB L Amax at 30 metres from the shore for international or world championship water ski racing events under specified noise measurement conditions.

Code of Practice for the Control of Noise from Oval Motor Racing Circuits 1996

The National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (now known s Environmental Protection UK - EPUK) has published this Code of Practice, which aims to control noise from short oval raceways. It covers race cars such as stock cars/ bangers/ ministox and rods. The code seeks to control noise in the following two ways:

  • by controlling noise from race cars and its attenuation by the fitting of exhaust silencers; despite the wide variety of vehicles racing on short oval tracks, tight engine restrictions mean that it is possible for the Code to stipulate a standard silencer for each type (formula) of race car. The only exception to this standard silencer policy is for the Formula One Stock Cars class, where there is no restriction on the engine type or size. For these cars, a noise level has been set and, as the RAC already has a noise level test technique in place at venues under its control, the Code adopts this as the control method for Formula One Stock Cars;
  • noise from other sources; the Code provides general advice on various techniques which can be used to control noise from the race site, including guidance on: site access and car parking location; the use of physical barriers; site layout; the positioning, orientation and number of public address loudspeakers; and times and duration of race meetings.

The Code also discusses the various legislative controls which must be observed when land is used for short circuit motor racing. Annexes to the Code contain a description of the sport of stock car racing, the various formulas of race car, silencer specification for these different types/ and contact details of relevant organisations.

CIEH - Clay Target Shooting: Guidance on the Control of Noise 2003

This document is concerned with the ways in which shooting noise can occur and the methods to minimise or prevent annoyance and intrusion. It includes a recommended method for the measurement of noise and its subsequent rating that was produced by the BRE. It provides advice on methods which can be used to minimise or prevent annoyance and intrusion from noise as a result of clay target shooting and includes a recommended method for the measurement and assessment of clay target shooting noise. The basic aim of measurement is to obtain a series of shot noise level measurement. Each shot level should correspond to the maximum A-weighted sound pressure level caused by the shot, or alternatively, the maximum value caused by the shot in a continuous series of short L Aeq, (L Aeq, 100ms) measurements. From these shot level measurement, the shooting noise level ( SNL) can then be calculated, which is defined as the logarithmic average of the 25 highest shot levels over the 30 minute measurement period. The guidance suggests that there is no fixed SNL at which annoyance starts to occur. However, in general, it has been shown that annoyance is less likely to occur at a mean SNL below 55dB(A), and highly likely to occur at a mean SNL above 65dB(A). The likelihood of annoyance at levels within this range will depend upon local circumstances. Thus an SNL deemed acceptable at one site, may not be appropriate or too stringent at another.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation and other shooting organisations do not support the use of this Code of Practice. However, it has been used by many local planning authorities in setting noise limits and its use has been tested and upheld by the High Court in England.

Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, Volume 11, HA213/08, available online at

This Advice Note provides guidance on the assessment of the impacts that road projects may have on levels of noise and vibration. Where appropriate, this advice may be applied to existing roads.

Other sources

Web Based Planning Advice on Renewable Energy Technologies

Advice on Onshore Wind Turbine provides advice based on 'The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms' ( ETSU-R-97) published by the former Department of Trade and Industry [ DTI]. This document provides a framework for the measurement of wind farm noise and gives indicative noise levels thought to offer a reasonable degree of protection to wind farm neighbours, without placing unreasonable restrictions on wind farm development or adding unduly to the costs and administrative burdens on wind farm developers. ETSU-R-97 presents relevant guidance on good practice and lists a series of recommendations

ETSU-R-97 (report from working group) is used throughout the UK to assess wind farm noise in planning applications. ETSU-R-97 was written by a Noise Working Group of developers, noise consultants, environmental health officers and others set up in 1995 by the Department of Trade and Industry through ETSU (the Energy Technology Support Unit). The preface to ETSU-R-97 says "The aim of the Working Group was to provide information and advice to developers and planners on the environmental assessment of noise from wind turbines. While the DTI facilitated the establishment of this Noise Working Group this report is not a report of Government and should not be thought of in any way as replacing the advice contained within relevant Government guidance. The report represents the consensus view of the group of experts listed below who between them have a breadth and depth of experience in assessing and controlling the environmental impact of noise from wind farms. This consensus view has been arrived at through negotiation and compromise and in recognition of the value of achieving a common approach to the assessment of noise from wind turbines".

The first paragraph of the executive summary says, "This document describes a framework for the measurement of wind farm noise and gives indicative noise levels thought to offer a reasonable degree of protection to wind farm neighbours, without placing unreasonable restrictions on wind farm development or adding unduly to the costs and administrative burdens on wind farm developers or local authorities."

The technical detail of ETSU-R-97 is important, but in summary this guidance requires the predicted noise levels from the wind turbine under a range of wind speeds to be compared with the background noise level at noise sensitive premises under similar wind conditions. Noise limits (in terms of L A90) are set at 5 dB(A) above the L A90 background noise level, subject to a lower limit of 43dB(A) at night and 35 to 40 dB(A) during the day.

ETSU-R-97 was originally published in 1997 and has been used extensively since then. In order to build on experience and knowledge gained during this period, and to settle a number of disputes about the factors that should be taken into account when assessing wind farm noise another Noise Working Group on wind farm noise was set up by the DTI/ BERR in 2007. The thoughts of the working group on these matters were published in an article from the Institute of Acoustics Bulletin (IoA), Vol 34 No 2, March/April 2009, and can be summarised as follows:-

  • Due to potential difference in wind speed at different heights above the ground the background noise levels should be correlated with derived (not measured) 10 metres height wind speeds. A method for doing this is described in the IoA article, although alternative methods can be used where justification is provided.
  • Agreeing the preferred method of prediction the propagation of wind turbine noise as ISO9613-2.
  • The turbine sound power levels used as input to the propagation model should be supported by documentation from the manufacturer with a statement of their status.
  • The atmospheric conditions should be assumed as 10°C and 70% RH.
  • The assumption of soft ground should not be made, and ground absorption G should be in the range 0 to 0.5.
  • Generally no account should be taken of barrier attenuation by land form unless there is no-line of sight between the top of the rotor and the receiver, when normally a maximum attenuation of 2 dB(A) can be used. Any higher barrier attenuation must be fully justified.
  • Agreement was reached that there is no robust evidence that low frequency sound, infrasound and ground borne vibration from wind farms, generally has adverse effects on neighbours.

PAN 50 Controlling the Environmental Effects of Surface Mineral Workings - Annex A: Control of Noise at Surface Mineral Workings

The aim of Annex A to PAN 50 Controlling the Environmental Effects of Surface Mineral Workings is to provide advice on how the planning system can be used to keep noise emissions from surface mineral workings within environmentally acceptable limits without imposing unreasonable burdens on minerals operators. Annex A of PAN 50:

  • recommends the use of a model for the prediction of the likely level of noise emissions from a proposed mineral development;
  • recommends a method for setting noise limits for mineral sites which can be incorporated into planning conditions. The method should take account of the environmental and operational features peculiar to each mineral site and should also be straightforward to monitor;
  • provides advice on how the noise levels from surface mineral sites can be most effectively monitored and on remedial steps which should be taken, to ensure that local communities are not subjected to noise emissions above acceptable levels;
  • discusses a number of noise control practices which can be made the subject of planning conditions and/or incorporated into good practice by the mineral operator.

PAN 50 states it is necessary for operators submitting applications for mineral working to have regard to the likely predicted noise impacts of the proposed development. They should be able to demonstrate what the background noise level is and what the noise emissions from the proposed development would be. Where necessary, the planning authority will have regard to the environmental acceptability of a proposal by the setting of maximum noise limits in a condition attached to the planning permission. However, there has been, to date, no widely agreed approach to where these limits should be set in relation to the development or what they should be. This Annex recommends a procedure for the setting of limits, but recognises that each case should be treated on its merits, having regard to the particular circumstances of the potential site and its surrounding area.


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