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The government's strategy to tackle ambient noise - background noise...
The government's strategy to tackle ambient noise - background noise

mainly caused by transport and industry - received strong support

during a three-month public consultation, urban quality of life

minister Alun Michael announced today.

He also launched a separate study into neighbour noise, an issue

highlighted by the majority of respondents to the consultation. The

study is the first step in developing a Neighbour Noise Strategy to

run in parallel with the Ambient Noise Strategy.

In a statement to parliament, Mr Michael said:

'There was very clear support for the government's proposals for the

development of an ambient noise strategy and I am pleased to confirm

that we are taking the next steps to develop the strategy. These

include: continuing the mapping already underway across England, the

establishment of an expert working group to address the effects of

noise and to establish cost-effective techniques to take action to

improve or preserve noise levels, as appropriate.

'A significant number of respondents indicated a need for a more

strategic approach to neighbour noise. I agree that there is a need

for a separate Neighbour Noise Strategy and as a first step towards

developing this, I am pleased to launch a study to examine neighbour

noise, both from the points of view of noise makers and their


'The research will generate appropriate and realistic options for

action to both raise awareness and influence behaviour and, with many

of the proposals identified during the consultation, should provide

us with a solid basis to also develop a more strategic approach to

the control of neighbourhood noise.'

Key findings of the 'Towards an National Ambient Noise Strategy'

consultation were:

- 89 per cent supported the government's approach to developing the


- 84 per cent supported more action to tackle neighbourhood noise.

- 'Annoyance,' including annoying noise, was considered a key

indicator of quality of life.

- Most believe more importance should be attached to noise as an

environmental problem.

The government will now:

- Continue the countrywide project to map noise patterns.

- Establish methods which the government might use to assess the

impact of noise on people's quality of life. Special consideration

will be given to the identification and preservation of 'tranquil


- Identify potential techniques to either reduce background noise or,

where appropriate, to ensure noise levels do not increase.

- Investigate ways of providing a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of

potential measures.

As part of this stage, Mr Michael is due to launch the national noise

mapping project at the Greater London Authority's City Hall

headquarters today. The first project covers noise from road traffic

in Greater London.

The first stage of the study into Neighbour Noise Strategy involves:

- profiling the behaviours and attitudes of people who make

unacceptably loud noise and people whose quality of life is

affected by noise disturbance to identify how we can best address

the problem.

- exploring and refining practical options used both in England and

other European countries to resolve noise complaints.

The strategy also involves changing people's attitudes to noise and

ENCAMS, the Environmental Campaigns charity which is part-funded by

DEFRA, has been enlisted to help tackle neighbour noise issues.


1. The three-month consultation exercise to help develop the

government's Ambient Noise Strategy was launched in December 2001,

and ended in March 2002.

DEFRA received 234 responses; a summary can be found at

2. The consultation followed the commitment in the Rural White Paper

to develop an ambient noise strategy, recognising the need to develop

an integrated and targeted approach to noise at local and national


3. Details of the government's three-phase approach to developing an

Ambient Noise Strategy are provided in news release 306/01 which can

be viewed here.

4. Ambient noise has already been addressed by a combination of

reducing noise generated by individual vehicles and aircraft, traffic

management schemes, and addressing noise at the planning stages of

new developments (planning authorities must have regard to the ODPM

planning guidance note, PPG 24 (Planning and Noise). Such action has

considerably reduced the output of noise from individual sources but

often failed to reduce the overall ambient noise because of other

factors, such as the increase in vehicles on our roads.

5. Neighbour noise is currently tackled by a combination of specific

legislation which provides local authorities with powers and duties

which enable them to deal with 'noisy neighbours.' These include

mediation and communication initiatives such as DEFRA's information

guide 'Bothered by Noise - there's no need to suffer.'

For more information view:

6. Doncaster MBC's innovative scheme to tackle noisy neighbours and

other nuisance noise won this year's John Connell Award, presented annually by the Noise Abatement Society.

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