Two-year project to map noise levels

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The Independent Online

Noise levels over all 50,363 square miles of England, from country roads to inner cities, are to be mapped in one of the biggest exercises of its kind.

Noise levels over all 50,363 square miles of England, from country roads to inner cities, are to be mapped in one of the biggest exercises of its kind. And for some people, noise mitigation measures may eventually be the result.

Hundreds of scientists and statisticians will spend two years plotting noise from motor vehicles, railways, aircraft and factories, everywhere from the Scottish border to Land's End, as part of a government commitment to reduce invasive sound in people's lives, in accordance with a forthcoming European Union law.

Taking actual measurements with noise meters at every location would be an unfeasible proposition, and the project has been made possible by the sophisticated computer mapping of the whole country now available from the Ordnance Survey, which can be married with traffic and other statistics from local authorities, to produce a calculation of likely noise in a given place.

The survey will begin in the summer and be finished by summer 2004, at a cost of £13m. Schal, a firm of specialist project managers, will manage it through 30 teams of acoustic specialists. The mapping will identify valuable areas of tranquillity as well as points of distressing noise.

The Environment minister Michael Meacher said the project would help the Government to develop strategies to improve people's quality of life.

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