In March 2012, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came into force. This document radically changed the planning system, by replacing a great many guidance documents, which previously informed the planning system in England.
The NPPF sets out the Government’s economic, environmental and social planning policies for England and these policies articulate the Government’s vision of sustainable development.
Paragraph 123 of the NPPF considers noise stating:
Planning policies and decisions should aim to:
avoid noise from giving rise to significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life as a result of new development.
mitigate and reduce to a minimum other adverse impacts on health and quality of life arising from noise from new development, including through the use of conditions.
recognise that development will often create some noise and existingbusinesses wanting to develop in continuance of their business should not have unreasonable restrictions put on them because of changes in nearby land uses since they were established.
identify and protect areas of tranquility which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason
National Planning Policy is guided by the NPPF. With regard to noise the terms ‘significant adverse impact’ and ‘other adverse impacts’ are defined in the explanatory notes of the ‘Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE). These state that there are two established concepts from toxicology that are currently being applied to noise impacts, for example, by the World Health Organisation. They are: NOEL – No Observed Effect Level, this is the level below which no effect can be detected. In simple terms, below this level, there is no detectable effect on health and quality of life due to the noise, and LOAEL – Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level. This is the level above which adverse effects on health and quality of life can be detected. Extending these concepts for the purpose of this NPSE leads to the concept of SOAEL – significant observed adverse effect level. This is the level above which significant adverse effects on health and quality of life occur. However, no specific noise limits for LOAEL and SOAEL have been defined. Therefore, guidance from other acoustic standards may be employed to determine suitable levels within the overall principal of the National Planning Policy Framework; such as BS8233 and BS4142.