Whilst acoustic practitioners continue to await a revision to PPG 24: Planning Policy Guidance 24: Planning and Noise in the form of a new Planning Policy Statement, DEFRA has released this policy statement which:
- provides a Noise Policy Vision, namely to “Promote good health and a good quality of life through the effective management of noise within the context of Government policy on sustainable development”;
- provides Noise Policy Aims which include: avoidance of significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life; mitigate and minimize adverse impacts on health and quality of life; and, where possible, contribute to the improvement of health and quality of life;
- explains the Guiding principles of Sustainable Development: Ensuring a Strong Healthy and Just Society; Using Sound Science Responsibly; Living Within Environmental Limits; Achieving a Sustainable Economy; and Promoting Good Governance;
- explanatory notes are included which go into further details including confirmation that the Policy applies to environmental noise, neighbour noise and neighbourhood noise but not occupational noise; and
- the notes also explain the meaning of “significant adverse” and “adverse” and introduce two established concepts from toxicology that are being applied to noise impacts, for example by the World Health Organisation: NOEL – No Observed Effect Level; and LOAEL – Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level; these are extended for the purpose of the NPSE into SOAEL – Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level.
You may be wondering how this NPSE could affect a planned development or project where noise is one of the many planning issues that need to be addressed. As yet, there is no indication that the NPSE will change how noise assessments are carried out nor are any objective criteria contained within the document. Historical assessment methods, as advised in PPG 24 and appropriate British Standards, remain current and in place and will continue to underpin the work of noise consultants in the UK. We will maintain a watching brief on how the NPSE may change approaches to assessments in the future and keep you informed.