Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 09:35 UK

Maps chart noise in urban areas

Noise map of an area in west London (Copyright: Crown copyright. All rights reserved Defra 100018880 2007)
The information will be used in attempts to reduce noise pollution

Residents in 23 towns and cities in England are to be given the chance to monitor noise levels in their area using interactive maps.

A Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website shows the level of environmental noise from road and rail networks in the areas.

Users can search by postcode to monitor noise levels. The 23 areas include London, Manchester and Sheffield.

Defra said the maps would help to tackle "unreasonable noise pollution".

The mapping process was carried out during 2006 and 2007 and incorporated the noise maps produced for the 18 English airports that were published in December last year.

Action plans

The website, which is being launched by Environment Minister Jonathan Shaw later, provides information covering 80,000 km of roads within urban areas, 28,000 km of major road networks and nearly 5,000 km of railways.

The urban areas highlighted in the maps include Blackpool, Brighton, Coventry, Hull, Leicester, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Teesside, Tyneside and West Yorkshire.

They will provide a spring board to go forward and tackle unnecessary and unreasonable noise pollution

Jonathan Shaw
Environment minister

Defra said the maps will be used to draw up action plans to reduce unreasonable levels of noise, where practical.

And in urban areas these will also include measures to protect designated quiet areas.

The website also includes information on the number of people exposed to these levels of noise.

All member states are obliged to produce maps under the EU Environmental Noise Directive.

Environment Minister Jonathan Shaw said: "Factors like transport and industry are a necessary part of modern life. But we need to look at what further practical steps we can take to make people's lives more tranquil."

John Stewart, from the UK Noise Association on the new scheme

He said the maps "provide the most comprehensive snapshot yet of noise in our country, all at the click of a mouse".

"They will provide a spring board to go forward and tackle unnecessary and unreasonable noise pollution," he added.

The minister said the maps would be used to "draw up action plans to reduce noise where practical from major roads and railways, as well as from urban areas".

Public consultation

He said these plans would include measures to protect "designated quiet areas" from any increase in noise.

Defra has outlined a number of ways in which noise can be reduced.

For example, where roads are concerned, quieter surfacing materials on new motorways and trunk roads can be installed, as well as noise barriers at a number of locations where traffic noise has been considered to be a particular problem.

To reduce rail noise, Defra suggested better design of new trains, stations and tracks.

Defra plans to conduct a public consultation as part of its work to implement the European directive.

London's noise map is published
14 Sep 04 |  London
Birmingham maps out noise
17 Feb 00 |  UK News

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