Thorne R, Shepherd D, Quiet as an Environmental Value

Robert Thorne & Daniel Shepherd: Quiet as an Environment Value: A Contrast between Two Legislative Approaches
July 3, 2013

We present a description of legislative approaches taken in Queensland (Australia) and New Zealand to define wellbeing and amenity in acoustical terms. The definitions are not simple, and are not easily translated into the rigid physical structures required for acoustical measurements, nor for the black-and-white criteria that assist legal judgements. Quiet is a readily defined environmental value and determinant of good health and wellbeing under Queensland’s environmental noise legislation. In practice, wellbeing and amenity can be described in terms of sound character or quality as well as physical terms such as sound level. Queensland legislation [28] provides clear guidelines for quiet in terms of soundscape, community amenity and human wellbeing with respect to noise.

The New Zealand planning legislation (27), however, does not provide the same level of guidance with respect to soundscapes, amenity and wellbeing, as Queensland and relies heavily on local planning instruments that apply sound levels which are variable in application. New Zealand planning legislation is not structured on protecting environmental values and the Queensland approach is preferred because of its emphasis on wellbeing and amenity, and defined environment legislative structure.

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