The noise mapping
Why Noise Mapping?
Mapping to Inform Noise Management Under the terms of the Environmental Noise Directive (END) a programme of actions on noise is set out for member states. These actions include the determination of noise exposure from the results of strategic noise mapping, actively informing the public about the noise maps, environmental noise and its effects and the adoption of noise action plans.
The overall aim of Environmental Noise Directive is to prevent and reduce noise where necessary. Prioritising the prevention of noise that is harmful to human health and preserving of areas where environmental noise quality is fine. EU Legislation Environmental noise policy is driven by European legislation.
The aim for the noise climate of Europe as set out in the EU 6th Action Programme - Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice, is:"to achieve reduction of the number of people regularly affected by long-term high noise levels from an estimated 100 million people in the year 2000, by around 10% in 2010 and by 20% in 2020."
Environmental noise, in the context of the END, is noise from transport and some industrial sources. The END does not cover domestic/neighbour noise, noise at work, noise inside means of transport or military noise. The END has no quantitative goal for noise reduction, but sets out an ongoing programme of noise mapping and noise action planning, aimed at:"preventing or reducing noise exposure and preserving environmental noise quality where currently good."
Noise mapping is a well-established practice in many European countries. It is an integral part of the process of developing an ambient noise strategy, and for ensuring that current and future noise levels are in compliance with existing UK and EU legislative standards.
Example noise map: A busy road junction in the London Borough of Southwark, illustrating the screening impact of buildings, and the increased levels around major intersections. The receptor points where modelling results may be compared to monitored noise levels are shown.
Based on advanced noise mapping software and our experience in developing noise propagation models, we offer an integrated service, combining the impact of all ambient noise sources: road, rail, industry and aircraft movements. The results will allow an analysis of the individual and combined effects of all these sources, for daytime, evening and night time periods.
Our package of results includes not only the completed and validated noise maps, but also the noise emission data. Much of this can be supplied in a format for easy manipulation, so that local changes and new planning scenarios can be generated. The results can then be exported ready for modelling both their noise and air quality impacts. For example this could be used for an assessment of the noise impacts of any proposed Air Quality Action Plan.
What is a Noise Map and what does it show?
A noise map is normally generated using computer software that calculates noise levels from input data such as traffic flows and topography (e.g. ground levels) Computer modelling is used rather than noise measurement as measurement would be prohibitively expensive and it would be technically difficult to isolate different sources of noise (e.g. that from road, rail, aircraft or industry). Noise maps are normally contour maps showing areas of differing levels of noise
They can be maps of individual noise sources i.e. road traffic, railway traffic, aircraft in flight or industry. However, all the sources can be combined into one map to give an overall picture of the noise climate.
In the case of END maps the noise levels are calculated at a height of 4 metres above ground level (i.e. roughly at first floor height).
Noise Mapping, Environmental Protection UK Briefing
The noise levels are long-term levels determined over a period of a year and are shown in terms of the noise indicators Lden (a good indicator of annoyance which takes into account noise levels during the day, evening and night) and Lnight (a good indicator of sleep disturbance - the night time period being defined as 11 pm to 7am).
The purpose of strategic noise maps
END Noise maps do not account for individual noisy incidents. What they do show is an indication of the areas most consistently affected by relatively high levels of environmental noise (and those areas likely to be relatively quiet). When interpreting the maps for the purposes of noise action plans, local knowledge will be needed to ensure all factors are considered.
Where are Noise Maps required?
To comply with the END, environmental noise levels have to be strategically mapped in the following areas:
In agglomerations - large, densely populated urban areas - over 250,000 people and in the UK with a population density of more than 500 people per km2 (maps of all roads, railways, airports and selected industry)
Around roads with more than six million vehicle passages a year
Around railways with more than 60,000 train passages a year
Around airports with more than 50,000 movements a year