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Sounds Of Our Lives

Submitted by SEPA

18th May 2006

As Noise Action Week sets to roar (22 -26 May), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) today recommends some top tips for industry on sound.

Measured in decibels (dB), sound affects us all - from everyday household sounds
to traffic and industry noise. A recent Mori survey reveals that 18% of Scots are aware of noise from commercial premises or activity and 9% are disturbed or annoyed by it. Local authorities have primary responsibility for almost all neighbourhood noise related complaints but SEPA also considers noise as part of certain industry pollution control licences.

Martin Valenti, noise specialist for SEPA, said: "Unwanted noise seriously affects people's lives and can, in extreme circumstances, cause illness." He continued, "Noise Action Week provides everyone involved in noise control with an opportunity to raise awareness of environmental problems and provides practical solutions to abate unwanted noise."

SEPA's top tips regarding industry generated noise are:

prevent further noise by: fitting acoustic enclosures and silencers to noisy equipment, and always use the best available technology;

reduce existing levels by: minor engineering modifications, and carry out noisy activities at the least sensitive times;

maintain current noise levels by: maintaining plant and equipment in good repair.

The aim of the Environmental Noise Directive (END) is to define a common approach across the European Union to noise. The intention is to avoid, prevent or reduce, on a prioritised basis, the harmful effects due to exposure to environmental noise, including annoyance. These effects are, the unwanted or harmful sounds created by human activities, including those emitted by means of transport, road, rail and air traffic and from specified sites of industrial activity.

Integral to the Directive is "strategic noise mapping" which will map: major roads; railways; airports and large urban areas, using harmonised noise indicators. These maps will help assess the number of people annoyed or have sleep-disturbed by noise. A World Health Organisation report claims that over 50 million people in Europe are exposed to noise levels above 65 dB(A), which is considered to be detrimental to health. SEPA regulates noise from industry and the typical noise sources can be aerodynamic or mechanical or, often, a combination of both.

Martin Valenti added: "The aim is to manage and reduce environmental noise where
necessary, and preserve environmental noise quality where it is good. For Scotland the Directive will mean informing the public about environmental noise and its effects, the preparation of strategic noise maps for: large urban areas, major roads, major railways and major airports as defined in the directive.

For more information see SEPA Noise


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