Monday, 20 July 2009

Bristol's Noise Priority Locations

DEFRA has released maps showing the areas identified as "priority locations" to be investigated due to problems from road noise. The maps use the DEFRA mapping produced under the requirements of the European directive on environmental noise to identify only those areas where the noise is above 76dB. The relevant table in the "supporting data" document shows that approximately 600 people in 300 dwellings fall within these locations.
The Bristol map highlights some areas which intuitively feel correct - the M32 North and South of Junction 2 for example. Other locations are more surprising, for example Blackboy Hill and the South end of Winterstoke Road. Information on the noise mapping approach and input data used for noise mapping in Bristol has not been made available so it is not possible to see why the levels are so high in these areas. There are some very small locations, for example the junction of Wells Road with Airport Road. It's instructive to contrast this approach with that used for Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) where the Local Authority creates a map showing where the air quality objectives are not being met - this is called the Air Quality Management Area. The approach adopted for traffic noise management in the UK is more centralised than that used for LAQM.
DEFRA lists the potential measures which could be applied to these priority locations as follows:
  • Facade insulation
  • Noise barriers
  • Reduction at source (traffic management, resurfacing, road design)
It remains to be seen how these specific priority locations in Bristol will be tackled. The consultation on action plans for all 23 "Agglomerations" has just opened, although the actual action plans are not yet published, only a generic template for the action plans.

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