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UK Legislation regulates most types of noise emission – whether from transportation, industrial, workplace, domestic or leisure sources. The legislation applies at many different levels – for example there are legal controls on the amount of noise most types of machinery can generate, including road vehicles and aircraft, construction plant and even some types of gardening equipment, such as lawnmowers. Together, there is now a huge volume of noise legislation and guidance. Some of this is given on our Links page.
There are also planning controls on the siting of noisy installations and also on the siting of noise-sensitive buildings, such as houses and schools. This means that when a new factory is planned, it must not cause undue noise at noise-sensitive premises, and also when new housing is planned, it must not be exposed to excessive noise.
New or improved roads are also subject to detailed noise assessment to ensure that they are planned and designed to take noise exposure into account. This work is complex and nowadays noise mapping is essential to the process.
Heavy investment is taking place to improve the UK railway network, with the introduction of faster trains providing a more frequent service. New rail links are also being planned or constructed, including extensions to the Docklands Light Railway and the proposed CrossRail link through Central London.
Again, noise mapping is being used to assess the potential not only for noise from the operational railway, but also from construction sites. These can be particularly problematic, as much railway construction work has to be done in ‘engineering hours’, ie when train services stop for the night.
When applying for planning permission for new housing, planning authorities require an assessment of the noise exposure, and again noise mapping is an ideal way of providing this information.
Equally, the noise exposure arising from new factories can easily be illustrated by noise maps.
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