More complaints about Port Precinct noise in the Southern Courier this week. Link to EPA’s media release about Noise at Port Botany
Note: Under Conditions of Consent A1.4 of the Port Expansion (approved 13/10/2005) trade at Port Botany was capped at 3.2million TEU. An environmental assessment was required before this could be changed. In November 2012 the Government (with support from the Fishers and Shooters and Christian Democrats) passed a Bill to make it ‘illegal’ to set a cap.
Councils ‘visualise’ noise for better planning
City noise mapping, now available through consultancy WSP, is helping local governments and the public to map and understand the impact of noise in their local areas, writes Ben Hinze.
|Results from a city noise map integrated into Google maps.|
City noise mapping is well established in the European Union. In 2002 the Environmental Noise Directive asked member states to provide environmental noise data in order to moderate exposure within built-up areas.
The European Environmental Agency (EEA) then launched the first comprehensive map of noise exposure in 2009, compiling information from 19 of the 32 EEA member countries.
Typically, legislation in Australia for assessing and understanding the impacts of noise intrusion into the construction of new dwellings is limited to construction works near state controlled roads (e.g. highways) and rail corridors.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) had drafted legislation that all new residential buildings constructed near a major road or rail line need to consider noise intrusion from these noise sources. This directive was abandoned for 2014, however it may reappear under the National Construction Code (NCC) for 2015.
Should external noise ingress feature within either code, it is likely the assessment and application of this policy will rest with local governments. Assessment and enforcement of either code is likely to require significant internal resources within councils that do not have a noise map to understand the existing noise environment to assess these development applications.
Noise map for Melbourne
In 2013, WSP’s acoustics team completed Australia’s first integrated city noise map of the greater Melbourne region for the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority.
This project involved modelling road, rail and industrial noise across 5600 square kilometres of the region, calculating the noise impact to about two million dwellings with more than four million people.
The Melbourne noise map is a stepping stone in Australia for understanding and addressing the impacts of environment noise to the community, both from a health and building construction/planning perspective.
While city noise maps completed overseas are primarily aimed at addressing noise emissions to achieve a nominated criterion, the primary objective of the Melbourne noise map is to provide a baseline for the assessment of the health burden form urban noise impacts.
The noise map provides a calculated noise exposure level to each individual dwelling’s occupants, allowing further studies to determine the potential health impact due to noise.
By calculating the noise impacts down to an individual building level, designers are able to see the noise environment around a building which, in the very early planning stages, can lead to the development of site layouts and building footprints that more effectively mitigate noise. Furthermore, understanding the external noise levels of a dwelling can define how the building is to be built to limit noise intrusion into habitable internal spaces.
Benefits in planning and management
Some of the greatest benefits in city noise mapping align with town planning. Noise mapping has the potential to change the way the nation looks at planning, policy and noise assessment throughout Australia, and is likely to provide huge benefits for urban design infrastructure and master planning projects. With an established baseline, master planning of new areas sensitive to noise and assessing the noise impact due to proposed infrastructure changes can be undertaken quickly and easily.
Noise mapping also assists in asset management. Previous noise mapping studies of Melbourne’s freeway network has allowed the future road traffic noise level from these roads to be predicted for the upcoming 25 years. Understanding where and when existing noise barriers are predicted to fail in lowering noise levels to meet the criteria, the budget and construction of new noise barriers, or the retrofitting of existing noise barriers, can be planned and scheduled.
Ben Hinze is an acoustic engineer at WSP Group.