New maps to pin sound down in British cities
Decibel levels are to be charted along major roads in 20 English towns and cities as part of the Government plans to tackle noise pollution.Defra has already mapped noise levels in the capital street by street and Londoners simply have to tap their postcode into the on-line tool to discover the loudest spots in their area.
The London map, and those planned for a host of other cities, currently concentrate on road traffic but in the future comprehensive maps will also take into account noise from railways, aircraft, industry and other sources.
Local Environmental Quality Minister, Ben Bradshaw said funding was now allocated to making noise maps of Bristol, Bournemouth, Brighton, Reading, Portsmouth, Southampton, Southend, Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry, Stoke on Trent, Hull, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Blackpool, Preston, Tyneside and Teeside, along with the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
"The potential uses are enormous," he said.
"By creating noise maps we can get a better understanding of the overall situation and target our efforts to tackle unwanted noise where it is really needed.
"Unwanted noise has probably affected us all at one time or another - it can cause stress and annoyance, interrupt conversation and disturb sleep.
"By creating more of these maps we can help Government, local authorities, planners and the public better understand noise levels and work more efficiently to reduce the number of people who are exposed to high levels of noise."
Creating a detailed map of noise levels throughout Enlgand is the first stage of a long-term plan to try to reduce background noise and its effect on those who have to endure it at high levels.
The Government believes it will be a useful tool which will not only make attempts to monitor the impact of measures to tackle ambient noise but will also influence planning decisions and pinpoint where people are worst affected by noise, how many are affected, and what the source of the noise is.
he findings from the mapping project will then be evaluated against economic, social and environmental factors before agreeing action that may be required.
By Sam Bond