Noise Matters – for Nature and our Quality of Life

Noise Matters – for Nature and our Quality of Life

Generally, noise generated from development applications within ‘acceptable limit values’ for humans, is not considered a material consideration in planning terms. Whilst there is an increasing focus for development to be ‘nature positive’ and deliver legally binding requirements for a net gain in biodiversity (BNG) – the impact of transport noise on nature tends to receive little or no consideration. Many developments currently fail to consider the impact of noise from traffic on its ability to deliver BNG. Most highway schemes currently do not consider the impact of the noise they generate on biodiversity. This is an area that will undoubtedly receive greater scrutiny as the BNG market matures and our understanding of the relationship between noise and nature is enhanced.

Research from Dr Mylene Mariette, a bird communication expert at Deakin University in Australia, is reported in the news today Noise from traffic stunts growth of baby birds, study finds | Birds | The Guardian. This research provides sage advice that “it would be wise to work more to reduce noise pollution.” It is clear that developments being conceived today are likely to need to respond to different requirements than they have in the past – particularly with regard to acoustics.

The impact of transport infrastructure and traffic on nature is so rarely discussed. If the UK is going to see a nature recovery, something that Labour committed to this week (, then bringing down levels of noise from traffic should be a high priority. Lots can be done to reduce traffic noise. Policy advocates the use of a decide and provide approach to deliver more sustainable development. This provides the opportunity to reduce vehicle speeds (electric vehicles emit just as much road noise at high speeds) and make places more accessible without needing to use a car. For a more detailed discussion on this topic, please see Housing Development and Highways - will we ever break the link? ( by Mayer Brown Director Dr Colin Black. Over the last decade, noise assessment requirements in the UK have tended to evolve, in many areas, into rather arbitrary tick-box exercises which can be of little real value. Our Acoustics team, led by Lise Tjellesen, provides an additional psychoacoustic perspective, working with our partners to create sound strategies that add value to developments, particularly in relation to customer perceptions of quality of life, and facilitate symbiotic relationship with surrounding nature supporting BNG. Placemaking is central to the design aspirations of high street improvement projects and development masterplans; Soundscapes are a critical component of a successful placemaking strategy.

Mayer Brown is a specialist consultancy, established in 1988, with a focus on development planning. Our team has the experience and understanding of what is necessary and of value. Find out more here Noise and Vibration Assessment | Mayer Brown Ltd

Call Lise to explore how our Noise and Acoustics consultancy can add value to your development.

07920 109 450 or email

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