When planning the development of a building, sites will usually require an environmental noise survey to take place as part of their Building Regulation obligations pertaining to acoustic and sound testing in the UK. This will typically be requested by the local authorities or a planning officer, and is a necessary action taken to assess the impacts of new developments on the surrounding environmental noise levels and vice versa.

Not only can an environmental noise survey be necessary for new developments, it can also be required to ensure that established sites are sticking to the noise level requirements within their area. Environmental noise surveys help to control noise pollution, and ensure that this is kept to an acceptable level, especially for areas with residential properties.

What is an Environmental Noise Survey?

An environmental noise survey is an assessment of the noise within a particular area. These surveys are known by various different names, including:

  • Noise Impact Assessments
  • Noise Tests
  • Noise Surveys

An environmental noise survey is vital for the development of new dwellings and homes within an area or neighbourhood, to ensure the noise levels do not reach unacceptable levels for residents in the proximal area. They can be used to assess the noise pollution produced from a range of different sources, including:

  • Wind turbines
  • Railways
  • Aircrafts
  • Roads

What Are Environmental Noise Surveys Used For?

Environmental noise surveys are not only used to safeguard noise levels of new dwellings across the UK, but can also be applied to numerous other situations.

These surveys can be used to measure the environmental impact of the noise pollution emanating from businesses, which can be used as informative data for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). This in turn can support evidence for planning applications, and as evidence for any statutory nuisance complaints.

Whilst environmental noise surveys can be conducted for many different reasons, they all work to help monitor and control the noise pollution within a given area, and ensure that businesses and planning sites adhere to the UK’s regulations surrounding environmental noise.

How is an Environmental Noise Survey Conducted?

An environmental noise survey must adhere to the most up-to-date regulations and standards surrounding the project’s current status. How these surveys are conducted will vary and will be dependent on the situation and the area needing to be assessed.

Although assessments vary from location to location and the development’s situation in relation to the survey, these assessments will typically record and measure the noise within the area. This record will then be compared and analysed to assess the impacts a development can have on the surrounding environment, or the impact the surrounding environment could have on any new developments.

When a noise survey is conducted, those involved will be informed of the requirements that must be met in order for development to go ahead. There are many different standards that can be required for an environmental noise survey, some of the main ones including the following:

  1. An environmental noise survey is conducted with consideration to the amount of noise complaints that will occur from surrounding residential properties. The local authorities will typically request the noise survey to be conducted to meet the requirements for this British Standard
  2. That the British Standard for internal noise levels has (or will be) reached within the surrounding residential properties
  3. This survey must be conducted using appropriate and accurate tools ensuring the assessment has been completed with the appropriate methodology
  4. Environmental noise surveys are conducted by professionals who will visit the site, measure it and provide a formal report to the appropriate organisations and bodies. This report will often suggest recommendations to help ensure compliance of the UK’s environmental noise regulations

Whilst all this information may well be standard practice for an environmental noise survey, the features of an assessment will be entirely dependent on the situation and the location of it. It is always important to check the precise nature of the regulations that will apply to a particular noise survey, helping to ensure success in the assessment.

Do I Need an Environmental Noise Survey?

Environmental noise surveys are often needed during the approval stage of building development projects. Developments that can have impacts on the noise pollution within residential dwellings will often have to undertake one of these assessments.

An environmental noise survey can therefore be required for a range of different projects, from the development of industrial plants to new residential dwellings.

When planning for the development of a new building project, it is vital to ensure that the project has checked that it can meet the standards of the surrounding appropriate noise pollution levels, and that if necessary, an environmental noise survey has (or will be) conducted.

What are the Criteria for Environmental Noise Surveys?

The criteria for an environmental noise survey will, as with most acoustic testing be very much dependent upon the situation of the development project. The regulatory authority organising the noise survey will usually inform the project on the precise standards that they will have to meet with regards to the environmental noise levels.

Two of the most common regulations that can be implemented in these surveys are the BS4142 and BS8233.

BS4142 requires projects to consider how industrial noise will impact upon the surrounding area, and the noise complaints that could arise as a result of this, whilst BS8233 focuses on ensuring that the required acceptable levels for internal noise are met within residential dwellings.

Whilst these are typical regulations that the local authorities will require building projects to adhere to, they are not the only standards that can apply. Before going forward with developing, it is important to check that the project meets all the appropriate standards for environmental noise levels, and has passed any and all necessary noise surveys required by the local authorities.