On-Demand and Real-Time noise monitoring reports required from Consultants, in Noise Management Plans for highly sensitive projects

27 October 2016 by Andrew Corkill, Director

There is an increasing trend, especially for large or particularly noise sensitive, new industrial developments, for Consultants preparing Noise Management Plans, to have to incorporate real-time or on-demand reporting of noise data to stakeholders. Although this reflects society’s expectation for increasing immediacy of both the availability of noise data and action in the event of breaches, it has also only arisen because improvements in noise monitoring equipment and mobile telephony, now make this possible.

Typically now available are two types of fast reporting of noise monitoring; immediate reporting and real-time reporting. Both utilise the same noise monitoring, modem and communications systems. The differences thereafter is that immediate reporting is ‘on-demand’ and is triggered by a download request, whereas real-time enables data to be viewed in real time on a website, but still requires a report request to be made for an auto report to be generated.

The Noise Management Plan

This would be prepared by a noise consultant and then submitted through the client, to the planning authority for negotiation and approval. The trigger for a Noise Management Plan is generally the need for compliance with a Planning Condition. Where noise monitoring is required at the outset of a project during groundworks, or piling, then the draft Noise Management Plan must be submitted shortly after planning approval. In some instances such as applications relating to onshore drilling and related activities including hydraulic fracturing, the Draft Noise Management Plan may be submitted with the planning application.

The Front End Instrumentation and Mobile Telephony

The noise consultant will own or hire noise monitoring equipment and data comms packages. This records noise levels, makes sound recordings and sends data across the mobile telephone network either to a website for real time access or a secure server owned by the firm. The Noise Management Plan may require weather information to be monitored as well and this can be transmitted for analysis too.

self-contained noise monitors

Two of Spectrum’s 20 self-contained Noise Monitors owned by the firm

On-Demand reporting of noise data

The noise management plan may require the consultant to provide an immediate report on demand. On receiving a report request, maybe following a complaint, the noise data and short samples of sound recordings are remotely downloaded, run through the firm’s post-processing/reporting software which generates the results graphically comparing it with a pre-set noise limit. Sound files are embedded on the graph where breaches arise so that the stakeholder can listen to the sound at the time of the breach. A one page summary report is generated automatically with the noise consultant able to add the important comments to advise whether the breach is material and what actions are then to be implemented in line with the procedure described within the Noise Management Plan.

on demand report chart

Real-time reporting of noise data

In some cases the Noise Management Plan may require the consultant to provide real-time access for the stakeholder (generally the local planning authority) at any time, from their offices over the internet. This type of system however does not allow the developer to professionally interpret and comment on the data quality within a report or the reason for an apparent breach. The automatic report is therefore a ’data only report’ rather than a ‘consultant report’, and would need a specialist to further interpret data to determine whether a material breach had arisen, prior to triggering actions to be taken on site.

Bruel & Kjaer ‘Sentinel system for real-time reporting of noise
Bruel & Kjaer ‘Sentinel’ system for real-time reporting of noise

All 20 noise monitors owned by Spectrum are based around Bruel & Kjaer equipment, and the firm uses the B&K Sentinel Website facility for those clients who wish either to review levels themselves or wish a 3rd party stakeholder to have access to the data.

Further information on Noise Management and Measurement and Instrumentation Capability

On-Demand and Real-Time noise monitoring reports required from Consultants, in Noise Management Plans for highly sensitive projects