How to Recognise When Noise Could be a Concern?
ENGLAND National Planning Policy Framework updated 2014
Paragraph: 005 Reference ID: 30-005-20140306
How to recognise when noise could be a concern?
At the lowest extreme, when noise is not noticeable, there is by definition no effect. As the noise exposure increases, it will cross the no observed effect level as it becomes noticeable. However, the noise has no adverse effect so long as the exposure is such that it does not cause any change in behaviour or attitude. The noise can slightly affect the acoustic character of an area but not to the extent there is a perceived change in quality of life. If the noise exposure is at this level no specific measures are required to manage the acoustic environment.
As the exposure increases further, it crosses the lowest observed adverse effect level boundary above which the noise starts to cause small changes in behaviour and attitude, for example, having to turn up the volume on the television or needing to speak more loudly to be heard. The noise therefore starts to have an adverse effect and consideration needs to be given to mitigating and minimising those effects (taking account of the economic and social benefits being derived from the activity causing the noise).
Increasing noise exposure will at some point cause the significant observed adverse effect level boundary to be crossed. Above this level the noise causes a material change in behaviour such as keeping windows closed for most of the time or avoiding certain activities during periods when the noise is present. If the exposure is above this level the planning process should be used to avoid this effect occurring, by use of appropriate mitigation such as by altering the design and layout. Such decisions must be made taking account of the economic and social benefit of the activity causing the noise, but it is undesirable for such exposure to be caused.
At the highest extreme, noise exposure would cause extensive and sustained changes in behaviour without an ability to mitigate the effect of noise. The impacts on health and quality of life are such that regardless of the benefits of the activity causing the noise, this situation should be prevented from occurring.
This table summarises the noise exposure hierarchy, based on the likely average response.
|Perception||Examples of Outcomes||Increasing Effect Level||Action|
|Not noticeable||No Effect||No Observed Effect||No specific measures required|
|Noticeable and not intrusive||Noise can be heard, but does not cause any change in behaviour or attitude. Can slightly affect the acoustic character of the area but not such that there is a perceived change in the quality of life.||No Observed Adverse Effect||No specific measures required|
|Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level|
|Noticeable and intrusive||Noise can be heard and causes small changes in behaviour and/or attitude, e.g. turning up volume of television; speaking more loudly; where there is no alternative ventilation, having to close windows for some of the time because of the noise. Potential for some reported sleep disturbance. Affects the acoustic character of the area such that there is a perceived change in the quality of life.||Observed Adverse Effect||Mitigate and reduce to a minimum|
|Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level|
|Noticeable and disruptive||The noise causes a material change in behaviour and/or attitude, e.g. avoiding certain activities during periods of intrusion; where there is no alternative ventilation, having to keep windows closed most of the time because of the noise. Potential for sleep disturbance resulting in difficulty in getting to sleep, premature awakening and difficulty in getting back to sleep. Quality of life diminished due to change in acoustic character of the area.||Significant Observed Adverse Effect||Avoid|
|Noticeable and very disruptive||Extensive and regular changes in behaviour and/or an inability to mitigate effect of noise leading to psychological stress or physiological effects, e.g. regular sleep deprivation/awakening; loss of appetite, significant, medically definable harm, e.g. auditory and non-auditory||Unacceptable Adverse Effect||Prevent|
Revision date: 06 03 2014