Hannah Blythyn, Minister for Environment
Further to my written statement of 11 July, the Welsh Government is publishing today its noise and soundscape action plan for Wales for the period 2018-2023, along with the responses received to the public consultation on the draft document. The noise and soundscape action plan replaces the previous noise action plan for Wales, which the Welsh Government adopted in 2013. Environmental noise legislation requires national noise action plans to be reviewed and revised, where necessary, at least every 5 years.
As highlighted in my July statement, noise can disrupt sleep and increase levels of stress, irritation and fatigue, as well as interfering with important activities such as learning, working and relaxing. Exposure to loud sounds can cause hearing damage, while exposure to noise in the long term can increase the risk of hypertension-related illnesses and cardiovascular disease. As part of the National Survey for Wales 2017-18, people were asked whether they had regularly been bothered by noise from outside their home in the previous 12 months. 24% said they had. The National Survey found that people were more likely to be bothered by noise if they lived in materially deprived households or deprived areas.
The noise and soundscape action plan is the Welsh Government’s central noise policy document, and has been produced collaboratively with local authorities and other public bodies. It outlines the Welsh public sector’s strategic policy direction in relation to noise and soundscape management for the next 5 years. It has a broader focus than simply clamping down on the decibels, recognising that we also need to create appropriate soundscapes, meaning the right acoustic environment in the right time and place. The UK’s Noise Abatement Society has praised the Welsh Government for being the first national government to explicitly embed the requirements of good acoustic design and soundscape management in its noise policy.
The Welsh Government ran a 12-week public consultation on the draft noise and soundscape action plan. 24 consultation responses were received. 11 of these were from organisations, and commented on the draft action plan document itself. They were overwhelmingly supportive of the approach being taken by the Welsh Government, and suggested a number of improvements to the proposed text. These suggestions have been considered, and a number of changes made to the final action plan. Some of the technical contributions received during the consultation have been quoted from in the final action plan. Where comments related primarily to land use planning, they will be taken into account when the Welsh Government conducts its review of Technical Advice Note (TAN) 11: Noise, with a view to replacing it with a new TAN addressing air quality and soundscape.
13 responses were received from members of the public or their elected representatives. Where these related to the content of the draft action plan, they have been considered alongside the responses received from organisations. Where they concerned local issues, they have been drawn to the attention of the relevant local authorities or, in the case of motorways and trunk roads, the Welsh Government’s Network Management Division. Decisions on which specific locations on the motorway and trunk road network will receive mitigation in the next 5 years are beyond the scope of the overarching action plan document, and will be taken by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport in due course.
Noise and soundscape action plan:
Consultation web page:
Noise Abatement Society – John Connell Awards 2018 (external link):