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									The Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy – Progress Report, March 2005


1. Introduction

1.1 Background
The Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy, Sounder City, was published in March 2004, following
widespread public consultation. It sets out a comprehensive agenda aimed at securing
support for minimising noise and improving soundscape quality across the capital. This is
the first progress report on the implementation of the Strategy.

It is the first citywide strategy of its kind in the UK. It effectively has to act as a pilot for
national ambient noise strategy, which is not expected before 2007. It also needs to reflect
the ways in which the many different noise issues inter-relate. The London strategy thus
needs to set out a comprehensive agenda, with 97 policies and 28 proposals for protecting
and improving noise environments in London. As national ambient noise strategy is
prepared, along with development of noise mapping and action planning, there will be both
needs and opportunities to establish priorities that will be acoustically effective,
administratively deliverable and affordable. The Mayor is keen to play his part in this
process, in partnership with central government, boroughs and others. In the short term,
implementation has to remain flexible in relation to changes in the context for action.

1.2 Implementing the Strategy
A partnership approach is vital to implementation. Transport for London has a significant
role to play across London as a whole in integrating noise management in transport
systems.The London Development Agency will be in an increasingly stronger position to
contribute as it focuses its regeneration and economic development activity in key areas of
change across the city. The role of the London boroughs is critical, and other agencies such
as the Environment Agency, industry, and voluntary organisations have contributions to
make.

Delays by national Government in allocating key responsibilities for implementation under
the European Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC have made it so far impractical
to establish formal partnership arrangements. A UK Government consultation paper on
implementing the Directive, including on the making of noise maps and noise action plans,
was published on 22 February 20051. The consultation period runs until 16 May 2005.
When the outcome is known, there will be a need to reassess the position of key bodies in
London, and the Implementation Framework contained in Appendix A1 of the Ambient
Noise Strategy published in March 2004.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) Noise Team has, however, been making progress
through a variety of joint working arrangements. It should be noted that the Mayor has
been given no new powers or resources specifically to reduce noise, and that proactive
management of ambient or environmental noise (mainly from transport and industrial
sources) is less developed and resourced in the UK than is the case in many other areas of
environmental policy. With limited resources, and a Greater London Authority Noise Team
of only two staff at present, there is need to be responsive to opportunities as they occur.

1‘Consultation on proposals for transposition and implementation of Directive 2002/49/EC of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental
noise’ Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, February 2005. Available from
www.defra.gov.uk


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The need to respond to planning and transport proposals means that many workload
priorities are externally generated. This applies to ensuring that noise is properly
considered in other Mayoral strategies, policy documents and initiatives, draft development
plans, strategic planning applications, and major transport projects.

Specific numerical targets have not so far been adopted for the Mayor’s Ambient Noise
Strategy, pending progress under national strategy preparation. The European
Environmental Noise Directive requires that member states report to the Commission on
existing ‘limit values’. There has been some debate on what constitute ‘limit values’ in this
context and whether they should include guideline, as well as enforcement, values. The
Government indicated in its consultation document published in February1 that it did not
intend to report limit values for the UK, and the national strategy position on targets is not
yet clear.


2. Action to improve understanding of noise

Improving the information base on noise is critical to establishing priorities, both nationally
and for London. This includes analysing how noise exposure is distributed, what can be
achieved in different circumstances by the range of feasible ways of reducing noise, and at
what cost.

2.1 Noise mapping-related analysis
The GLA and Transport for London have been working with central government on noise
mapping, in particular by providing suitable input data for computer modelling. The first
Londonwide road traffic noise map was published in September 2004. Public web browser
access is available via www.noisemapping.org. The Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs has agreed that the GLA can have suitable access to the underlying databases
for detailed analysis. Sections 2.2 and 2.3 outline two initial noise mapping-related projects
commissioned by the GLA.

2.2 Equalities analysis of road traffic noise mapping
Depending on income, gender, age, ethnicity, disability, and other factors, different
population groups tend to be located differently across the city, and to be differentially
exposed to environmental impacts. It is widely believed that groups vulnerable to social
exclusion are more likely to occupy housing which has higher than average levels of
exposure to ambient noise such as from road traffic. The main aim of this study, being
carried out by Atkins Consulting Ltd, is to assess how far and to what extent different
groups in the population are differently exposed to road traffic noise (completion end of
March 2005).

2.3 Road traffic noise mapping - action planning-related project
A Road Traffic Noise Reduction Toolkit is being prepared by consultants TRL, together
with a Noise Barrier Review. This work will deliver up-to-date information, including on
costs and effectiveness of different types of measures, to assist boroughs, Transport for
London and others in preparing pilot noise reduction projects using noise mapping where
relevant. The project was originally planned to have been larger, and carried out jointly
with central government, contributing to national strategy development and action
planning, and generating a wider range of information relevant to assessing priorities. The
smaller project is now funded jointly with Transport for London (completion end of March
2005).



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2.4 London Noise Survey, Phase 1
In 2002, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published reports of a
National Noise Incidence Study, carried out by the Building Research Establishment in
1999/2000. This comprised 24 hour noise measurements outside a sample of typical homes
across the UK. Special analysis of the London sites was commissioned for the Mayor’s
Ambient Noise Strategy. Due to the population-based sampling method used, the areas
surveyed in London were located in the more populous outer boroughs, with none in the
inner boroughs. Consultation on the Mayor’s Draft London Ambient Noise Strategy
indicated support for addressing the gaps. Thus, 24 hour noise measurements outside 60
homes in inner London (in Camden, Southwark and Tower Hamlets) were carried out in
early 2004. A report analysing this data, in combination with similar data from a survey
separately commissioned by Westminster City Council, will be published shortly.

2.5 London Noise Survey, Phase 2
The project is for noise data collection and analysis, with contingency for measurement, to
extend national work to currently unrepresented parts of London, forming the second phase
of a London Noise Survey. The work, currently under way, aims to analyse the distribution
of overall residential noise exposure in West London, in ways compatible with data in other
parts of London, but using a different methodology to reflect the distinct issues associated
with Heathrow airport flightpaths, in terms of direction of aircraft operations and time of
day, including the effects of runway alternation.


3. Statutory and other planning activity

3.1 Planning referrals
Planning applications for development are made to London boroughs and the Corporation
of London, with major cases being referred to the Mayor for direction under the Town and
Country Planning (Mayor of London) 2000 Order. The GLA Noise Team advises on the
noise implication of the more complex applications. The number of cases requiring input
depends on the number and nature of referred applications. Comments were provided within
the timescale required by GLA Planning Decisions Unit on some 45 development control
issues in the ten months between 1 April 2004 and 31 January 2005. Noise and soundscape
improvements were sought wherever appropriate, including in major developments such as
Stratford City and the Olympics/Lower Lea Valley.

3.2 Development planning
London Borough’s Unitary Development Plans (becoming Local Development
Frameworks/Documents under planning reforms) are referred to the Mayor under the
Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) 2000 Order. The Mayor must ensure that
these are in conformity with his London Plan. The GLA Noise Team provides advice to the
Mayor on the noise implications. The volume of this work depends upon the number of
development plans being referred. Comments were provided within the deadline set by
PDU on 10 Unitary Development Plans for which comments were sought, in the ten
months between 1 April 2004 and 31 January 2005. Improvements were sought wherever
appropriate in the noise policies of the plan-making authority.

3.3 Technical and policy advice
The GLA Noise Team provided a range of technical advice to other parts of the GLA,
Transport for London, London boroughs and others on major projects, planning issues and
proposals with strategic implications. Transport for London has executive responsibilities
for implementing schemes, in some cases in conjunction with other parties such as the


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Department for Transport, balancing the needs for effective noise management with other
issues. Projects being progressed include Crossrail, East London Line, West London Tram,
and Thames Gateway Bridge. Extensive noise barriers have been incorporated in the
Thames Gateway project as it has been developed. The bridge application has been ‘called
in’ for decision by the Secretary of State.


4. Progress under the Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy Objectives

This section sets out progress under each of the objectives of the Mayor’s Ambient Noise
Strategy. These expand on the Mayor’s overall aim, which is a practical one - ‘to minimise the
adverse impacts of noise on people living and working in, and visiting London using the best
available practices and technology within a sustainable development framework’. The objectives are
expressed qualitatively, and should be seen as interim, pending further development of the
new national and European framework for noise management.

4.1 To minimise the adverse impacts of road traffic noise
A very wide range of transport activity supports this objective. For example, improved
provision for cycling, and smoothing traffic flow can deliver noise benefits. Detailed
progress on implementing the Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy policies and proposals on
road traffic noise is reported on separately by Transport for London, which has relevant
executive responsibilities2. Work to reduce noise is being further integrated across
Transport for London’s operations. A key issue is securing good road surfaces which help to
reduce noise on Transport for London’s roads, and it is also a priority to extend such
surfacing across all roads where they would be effective. Progress has been made in
replacing road surfaces and improving maintenance on the Transport for London Road
Network. Transport for London has commissioned a technical review of noise-reducing
road surface materials, focusing on issues related to current London operating conditions.

The Mayor announced on 23 November 20043 that Transport for London would, in
response to applications under the Borough Spending Plan process, be increasing funding
support related to the environmental impacts of transport, from £1 million to £1.5 million
in 2005/06. This includes funding for seven projects with a direct focus on noise. Some
projects with other objectives, for example, related to electric vehicles and planting, are also
likely to help reduce noise. Boroughs have been preparing their Local Implementation Plans
for the period 2005/6 onwards, setting out how they will implement the Mayor’s Transport
Strategy, taking proper account of Ambient Noise Strategy.

4.2 To encourage preferential use of vehicles which are quieter in their operating
conditions
Detailed progress under this objective is reported on separately by Transport for London2.
Transport for London operates a 100% discount on the Central London Congestion Charge
to encourage the use of vehicles powered by certain alternative fuels. Many of these are
quieter than conventionally-fuelled vehicles. Monitoring of the impacts of the Central
London Congestion Charge included a survey of 8,000 people on street, published in



2
  Including in the Transport for London Environment Report 2004, and in reporting to the London Assembly,
e.g. Appendix 1 to Report No 5, Environment Committee, meeting of 18 January 2005.
3
  Funding programme for local transport improvements, see http://www.Transport for
London.gov.uk/Transport for London/press-releases/2004/november/press-pn1262.shtml


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February 20044. This showed a widespread perception that the noise environment had
improved. Harder evidence does not, however, suggest a generally significant change in
physical noise levels.

Transport for London is trialling hydrogen fuel cell buses, in a 2-year cross-European
project due for completion by January 2006. The buses have been very popular, with quiet,
smooth operation being one of the benefits appreciated by the public. Trialling of hybrid
diesel-electric buses has been pursued. The Mayor is backing the London Hydrogen
Partnership which is investigating how other hydrogen-fuelled transport may be best
progressed.

4.3 To minimise the adverse impacts of noise from freight and servicing
Detailed progress under this objective is reported separately by Transport for London2.
Work through the London Sustainable Distribution Partnership, and its road and rail
working groups, has included ensuring that noise was fully considered in the review of the
London Night and Weekend Lorry Control Scheme (the ‘Lorry Ban’) which is run by the
Association of London Government. Transport for London is undertaking further work on
assessing noise from freight operations. Input has been made to Transport for London on
development of freight policy.

4.4 To promote effective noise management on rail networks in London
Detailed progress on implementation of the Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy policies
related to railway noise is reported on separately by Transport for London, for example in
respect of London Underground, and the Docklands Light Railway2. London Underground
has co-ordinated CONVURT (Control of Noise and Vibration from Underground Rail
Traffic), a cross-European project aimed at improving capabilities in noise and vibration
management. A Noise and Vibration Group has been established within the London
Underground Environment Forum to assist in integrating effective noise management, with
a particular focus on renewals on the tube.

The Docklands Light Railway’s Noise and Vibration Policy includes specific local targets,
noise monitoring and maintenance procedures. Noise mitigation measures are applied to
DLR extension projects, such as to Woolwich Arsenal, in accordance with this policy. Issues
in respect of Crossrail, East London Line and West London Tram are being addressed
through planning and other statutory processes as these schemes are developed. Network
Rail has been improving its track quality management systems. Allocation by Government
of action planning responsibilities under the Environmental Noise Directive will be
important in how railway noise management can be further improved.

4.5 To minimise the adverse impacts of aircraft noise in London, especially at night
The Government has key responsibilities for managing aircraft noise at Heathrow, Gatwick
and Stansted. Many issues are significant concerns for Londoners, and the Mayor has
continued to play his part in ensuring that the case for protecting Londoner’s is properly
put. The Mayor has lent support to legal actions on night flights, which have been a
concern for many Londoners. In December 2004, the Mayor approved a grant of up to
£20,000 to HACAN ClearSkies to cover any shortfall in respect of legal costs incurred in
their Judicial Review challenge on the Air Transport White Paper in respect of runway
alternation at Heathrow. Technical work related to aircraft noise, to ensure that noise
impacts and any proposals for changes, are fully understood, has been supported through

4
 ‘Congestion Charging: Update on scheme impacts and operations’ Transport for London, February 2004, see
http://www.Transport for London.gov.uk/Transport for London/cclondon/cc_monitoring.shtml


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the local authorities Air Noise Working Group. In making decisions on Borough Spending
Plans, which the Mayor announced in November 2004, support was given to relevant noise
measurement work in the London Boroughs of Hounslow and Richmond.

4.6 To minimise the adverse impacts of noise on or around London’s rivers and
canals, while retaining working wharves and boatyards, and enhancing water space
tranquillity and soundscape quality
Issues related to licensing reform and riverboats, and tensions between riverside
development and the working river, were pursued in summer 2004 with the Association of
London Government, the London Rivers Association and river stakeholders. Government
guidance and regulations on implementing the new Licensing Act, issued in autumn 2004,
placed responsibilities for licensing ‘party boats’ with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The work of the London Hydrogen Partnership has included promoting quiet hydrogen fuel
cells for boats. Planning for a Thames Soundscapes conference took place; sponsorship has
not so far been secured, and a smaller workshop may be held.

4.7 To minimise the adverse impacts of industrial noise, recognising the use of best
practicable means/best available techniques, and the need to retain a diverse and
sustainable economy
Advice on noise issues has been provided in relevant policy areas, including to the London
Plan Team in respect of industrial land issues. Input has also been made on noise issues in
specific planning referrals. These include new waste materials handling facilities, where
growth in demand may be expected with moves towards higher rates of recycling.

4.8 To improve noise environments in London’s neighbourhoods, especially for
housing, schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive uses
Input has been made to the London Housing Capacity Study, which will be further
developed by the London Plan Team to ensure that ambient noise is taken into account at
the earliest possible stage in the planning process. In response to concerns about noise in
homes expressed during public consultation on Ambient Noise Strategy, a study of options
for ways forward was carried out, and published in October 20045. Key issues examined
included incorporating internal noise insulation in the Decent Homes Standard; housing
allocation policies, tenancy agreements and housing management; temporary relief in the
worst cases; grant aid, equity release and other means of securing more resources;
improving information on noise insulation, including costs, and possible labelling schemes.
Partners are being sought for a Quiet Homes Conference to pursue issues further. Advice
has been provided on future housing policy, and on major planning applications for housing.
Following up a Late Night London seminar series, arranged by GLA jointly with the
Association of London Government and the Government Office for London, initiatives
related to better management of the late night economy have been pursued. These included
publishing, in September 2004, jointly with the London Borough of Camden, work on
analysing the nature and extent of the night-time economy in Camden Town This brought
together data from a wide range of sources and identified key issues to help in setting
priorities for action6.

4.9 To protect and enhance the tranquillity and soundscape quality of London’s open
spaces, green networks and public realm


5
 published as ‘Quiet Homes for London’ http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/noise/index.jsp
6
 published in ‘A managed approach to the night time economy in Camden Town: Research Study’
http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/sds/camdemtown.jsp


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Recognising that recent transformation in the visual quality of new buildings and public
spaces has not always been matched by a similar attention to sound quality, a series of web-
based factsheets promoting ‘Sound-conscious Urban Design’ was launched7. These illustrate
a range of ways in which buildings and public spaces can be designed to improve city
soundscapes. They include transparent noise screening, water features masking noise in
urban squares and parks, innovative paving which creates changing soundscapes for
walkers, and designing an outdoor performance space to give high quality sound with less
amplification. Input has been made on noise and soundscapes in Lower Lee
Valley/Olympics bid preparations, planning proposals, and to technical work related to
implementing the European Environmental Noise Directive in respect of Quiet Areas.


5. Questions, scrutiny and correspondence

The Mayor is subject to scrutiny and questions from the London Assembly, and receives a
large amount of correspondence from Londoners. These need to be dealt with promptly and
accurately. Advice on issues relating to noise is provided whenever required.


6. Joint working

Regular dialogue has been maintained with the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, the Government Office for London, the Association of London Government,
London boroughs, and other stakeholders to progress implementation of Ambient Noise
Strategy. The case for new funding support continues to be put to Government. Initially,
this is aimed at securing support for monitored pilot projects which can contribute to
development of national strategy. Funding issues will need to be further pursued.

The GLA participates actively in Londonwide working by local authorities on noise,
including through the Local Authorities Rail Impact Forum, the Air Noise Working Group,
the London Pollution Study Group, and the Association of London Government. Debates
have taken place on specific aspects of strategy implementation at meetings of the relevant
groups.

A special all-borough meeting was arranged on 6 December 2004 to discuss options for
implementing action on ambient noise, including examining the scope for a London Noise
Action Partnership, and other mechanisms for joint working. The meeting was attended by
representatives from 20 boroughs, central government and Transport for London.
Responses from the boroughs, both at the meeting and to a questionnaire circulated in
advance, were generally positive towards reinforcing joint working, including through
developing guidance on good practice. The meeting had been called in anticipation of public
consultation by central government on arrangements for implementing the Environmental
Noise Directive in the UK. In the event, the government did not publish its consultation
paper until February1. Potential partners indicated that they wished to see allocation of key
responsibilities among the various parties clarified before formal partnership arrangements
could be properly considered.




7published as examples of ‘Sound conscious urban design’
http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/noise/index.jsp


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7. Consistency with other strategies, and cross-cutting themes

There are, of course, many linkages between the Ambient Noise Strategy and the Mayor’s
other strategies and policies. Inputs have been made wherever appropriate in a range of
other policy areas to ensure consistency, and to positively promote shared opportunities
wherever possible. Examples during 2004 included input on anti-social behaviour, older
people, and to the revised Economic Development Strategy for London. Achieving a balance
between environmental and other needs is an ongoing part of implementing Ambient Noise
Strategy. The timing, amount and nature of such work is, of course, dependent on how
policies, programmes and projects are brought forward in other areas.

The adopted Ambient Noise Strategy identifies the main linkages with other Mayoral
Strategies. The major themes are considered below.
     Transport Strategy is the most significant linkage. Transport in one form or another
       is physically the most widespread source of ambient noise. Implementing
       progressive noise reduction will depend on overall shifts towards more sustainable
       transport patterns, as well as on integrating noise management into transport
       policies, programmes and projects which are initiated for other purposes. Support
       from Government for specific noise mitigation projects will continue to be sought.
     The London Plan, and its implementation through development frameworks and
       other documents, planning referrals, and advice and guidance, is also highly
       significant. Noise and soundscapes needs to be integrated in wider spatial planning,
       in terms of the location of activities, as well as in ‘sound-conscious urban design’.
       Shifts to more sustainable design and construction offer significant opportunities to
       help reduce noise.
     Improvements to vehicle fleets and many other Air Quality Strategy measures offer
       the potential to secure noise benefits.
     Links with Energy Strategy are important, where noise benefits need to be secured
       alongside energy efficiency and fuel poverty work, and, for example in terms of
       green buildings, where the potential benefits of green roofs and climbing plants need
       to be better understood.
     Links with work on biodiversity, open space and public realm regeneration will be
       important in securing more sustainable soundscapes.

The Mayor must have regard to the effect of his strategies on the health of Londoners, on
sustainable development, and on promoting equality of opportunity for all people. Health
and wellbeing are basic drivers for better noise management. While an individual sound can
dissipate rapidly, noise becomes a sustainable development issue because its effects on
health, quality of life and the urban environment can accumulate.


8. Equalities implications

The Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy is designed to promote equality, equal opportunities
and improved relations. Discussion of equalities issues is focused at paragraphs 3.10 to 3.29,
but equalities issues have informed drafting of and consultation on the strategy as a whole,
e.g. paragraph 5.30 on training and staffing. The strategy draws out areas where noise
reduction benefits could be greater. It also refers to the need for future funding to take
account of where the costs of securing benefits may be greater. The strategy includes a
framework for further development; equalities analysis should inform future action
planning.


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Evidence suggests that all groups can be adversely affected by noise. The strategy draws
out areas where there are likely to be differences in exposure and/or vulnerability. It sets
out ways in which understanding of differences will need to be improved, as an integral part
of developing national and international policy on noise. It identifies specific groups that
could benefit particularly (e.g. people with a visual impairment, children learning, older
people) and areas where costs of improvement could be higher.

As reported above, a major equalities analysis of road traffic noise mapping is being carried
out to identify key distributional issues at the strategic scale. The GLA’s systems for
assessing equalities issues will be pursued, including further considering equalities aspects
as Ambient Noise Strategy is implemented. The aim is greater environmental justice, not
just avoiding unfair impact.

9. Risk management

Risk assessment of the Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy has been carried out within the
context of the GLA’s overall risk management framework. Key issues include severe
overload on the two GLA staff available to work on noise, which imposes constraints on the
capacity to develop new projects and partnership work. In particular, more resources would
enable stronger promotion of exemplary acoustic design, and improving soundscapes in
public spaces. Many of the key risks to progress on implementing Ambient Noise Strategy
are external to the GLA itself. For example, a clear national framework of duties, powers
and resources is required. There is also the risk of insufficient skills and capacity being
available in delivery agencies, particularly in organisations with environmental health,
transport, planning, housing, parks and other functions. The Mayor’s strategy makes it
clear that reducing noise in Britain’s biggest and busiest city will require new resources.

10. Looking to the future

Tackling noise in Europe’s biggest and busiest city will require sustained action by many
stakeholders. The Mayor’s Ambient Noise Strategy approach has secured general support,
and will help pave the way for national ambient noise strategy.

Better noise management needs to be progressively integrated in basic design and operation
of systems, securing action through other plans, programmes and projects. Exemplary pilot
projects are needed to build evidence on costs, benefits and wider implications. The Mayor
will investigate and promote action on photovoltaic8 noise barriers and other initiatives to
improve soundscapes. Capacities in design and management need to be extended. The
potential of a Mayor’s Sound Award to encourage innovation and exemplary practice will
need to be further considered9.

Implementation will be significantly shaped by how key duties under the Environmental
Noise Directive 2002/49/EC are allocated. New funding for action on noise will need to be
further pursued. However, the first job has been done. The Mayor’s strategy has put


8
 Noise screens incorporating cells which convert light into electricity.
9
 During 2004, the Institute of Acoustics extended its awards, and the success of the John Connell Awards,
supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and run by the Noise Abatement
Society, was consolidated.


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effective noise management and the need for better soundscapes firmly on the agenda for a
more sustainable city.




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