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Acoustic and Noise Impact Studies

Noise has become one of the major problems affecting our society in various degrees. The type of modern life we are holding (frequent mobility, increased traffic, etc...) makes this polluant to spread over in a considerable rate.

Environmental management on noise should be aimed at not having humans or natural ecosystems feeling bothered by uncomfortable levels of noise caused by human activity around them. This purpose is achieved by applying criterias of prevention, control and treatment or reduction.

The legal instruments that allow regulators to act on activities so that they do not create noise problems to residents are:

  • legal regulations on protection against noise
  • adopting sound quality objectives in the various figures of the planning
  • sector regulations (basic rules of construction, IIAA rules, regulations on environmental assessment, etc...)

Noise impact studies, included in Environmental Impact Assessments as an appendix, are drawn according to Law 16/2002 of 28th of June, on protection against acoustic pollution.

The purpose of this Law is to regulate the necessary measures to prevent and correct the acoustic pollution that affects people and the environment, caused by noise and vibration, and establish a system of administrative intervention that is applicable to all Catalan territory.

According to Article of this law, municipalities have to produce a map of acoustic capacity with noise emission levels of acoustic transmitters to wich this Law applies, which are included in urban areas, city centres, and if any, natural areas. The purpose of these maps is to determine the acoustic capacity of the territory by establishing areas of acoustic sensitivity in the municipality.

Noise Impact Studies include a determination of sound emission levels in the external environment caused by transportation, neighbourhood, etc..., these levels are determinated by the use of a sound meter. From the acoustic analysis of the capacity of the territory and characteristics of the new infrastructure or activity, an assessment of the noise impact is done and some attenuating measures are defined, either for the transmitter, the receiver or both.

In the case of transport infrastructures, a prediction of noise levels is also calculated using simulation methods (i.e. CETUR method). Those are applied according to the traffic intensity, the type of firm, the specific speed, the % of heavy vehicles, the attenuation depending on the distance, etc... Based on this prediction, corrective measures are proposed to minimize noise impact, such as, for example, the installation of noise barriers.

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