London and Noise

London and Noise

Many cities around the world are attempting to address the problem of urban noise. Today’s post takes a brief look at London’s approach.

In 2004, London’s Mayor published a study of noise in London. It is very detailed (300 pages) and is supposed to map the future for dealing with noise in London. So far I have only skimmed the study and read the Executive Summary. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Noise is the “forgotten pollutant”.
  2. Noise is a key quality of life issue.
  3. The Mayor “has a duty to consider the health and well-being of Londoners, and to produce a strategy for London on ‘ambient noise’”.
  4. Local ‘nuisance noise’ = noisy neighbours, pubs, roadworks, etc. These are dealt with at the borough level.
  5. This is the first city-wide noise strategy in the UK.
  6. The Mayor supports a London Noise Survey (in order to map noise in the city)
  7. The aim of the strategy is a practical one – “to minimize the adverse impacts of noise on people living and working in, and visiting London using the best available practices and technology within a sustainable framework.” (ix)
  8. The Mayor has power to make changes through Transport for London.
  9. A Traffic Noise Action Programme will be prepared for the Transport for London Road Network. (xi)
  10. Part of this will be improved road surfaces (xi)
  11. Railway noise will be addressed too. (xii)
  12. Aircraft noise will be addressed. (xiii)
  13. Noise on canals and rivers will be addressed. (xiv)

At the end of the Executive Summary, three key issues are highlighted:

  1. Securing good, noise reducing surfaces on the roads
  2. Securing an night aircraft ban across London
  3. Reducing noise through better planning and design of new housing

This link gives a list of “good” examples from around the world – Hong Kong, Chicago, Rotterdam, and London; check them out.

So far I have found only one update on the report, in the Appendices to the Mayor of London’s Annual Report, 2011/12.  There is only one line about noise: “The Noise Strategy published in 2004 remains in force.” (I assume this means that perhaps it is a low priority these days?)

In looking for an update, I did find an interesting report from London City Airport: “LCA Noise Action Plan 2012-15”.  This plan is a response to the UK government’s requirement (2006) that all airports develop such a plan. This government requirement arose from the EU Environmental Noise Directive (2002).

Here is a link to a site created by the UK’s Department for Food Environment and Rural Affairs, with a number of noise maps that have been created. These maps are quite interesting!

So, there is a pattern emerging in the UK (and across the EU) of developing strategies to address noise. We will see how this goes, given the economic pressures facing both the UK and the EU. And perhaps we will see similar projects in North America?

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