Ministry of Defence - Test Range Noise & Vibration Study

Southdowns was been appointed to undertake a noise and vibration monitoring study, in some of the communities around the MOD Pendine and MOD Shoeburyness military test facilities.

QinetiQ, which operates the ranges on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), commissioned this independent Study at the request of the MOD, to determine the possible effects of damaging noise and vibration effects associated with the test evaluation and training support activities carried out on the Ranges.

The study required the monitoring of sound pressure, air overpressure and groundborne vibration at multiple locations of interest in the vicinity of the Ranges.

The monitoring equipment used in the study required bespoke software which was specifically developed and trialled to ensure that data was captured in such a way as to allow for a clear identification of causal link, between Range events and off site effects. Following the triggering of an 'on-site' Master system, all off-site monitors were automatically triggered via a GPS link to to capture signals over a pre-trigger period and for the actual event at the 'off-site' locations.

The data was processed to quantify the correlation between the range firing logs and the measured signals using digital signal processing and statistical analysis techniques.

The noise and vibration monitoring required continuous monitoring over a 6 month period at the Pendine Range first, followed by a further 6 months at the Shoeburyness Range.

The study also included a comprehensive review of published research and guidance to ensure that appropriate assessment indicators and effect thresholds were identified and adopted for the data interpretation phases of the project. The key objectives of the review were to:

  • - develop an understanding of the acoustic effects of activities which are undertaken on MOD land ranges and evaluate the acoustic characteristics which may cause adverse effects leading to structural damage;
  • - provide best practice guidance for the measurement of acoustic effects from military land range activities at far-field receptor locations; and
  • - to develop an understanding of the magnitudes at which such acoustic related effects are likely to cause structural damage to property.

The review considered previous similar studies undertaken in the UK and overseas, as well as relevant British Standards and academic literature, to provide context and technical commentary on the key considerations for the monitoring study.

Site suitability visits were undertaken, a comprehensive risk register was developed and a Pilot Study conducted to ensure that project risks were managed effectively prior to the main study deployment.

The Pilot study enabled the effectiveness of a number of risk areas to be tested, including:

  • - equipment installation and management;
  • - data management (including storage, transmission, post processing);
  • - effectiveness of synchronous detection technique;
  • - importance of local circumstances / conditions;
  • - telecommunications issues; and
  • - initial view on whether monitoring system provides robust causal link.

In combination with the site suitability studies, the Pilot study helped to provide a more accurate picture of the key monitoring and data management requirements. The results of the main studies were published in 2016 and can be found on the Government's web-site at the following links:

Pendine Reports

Shoeburyness Reports