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New noise and soundscape planning guidance promised in Wales

Words: Roger Milne
Noise pollution / Shutterstock_28036624

The Welsh Government has promised more planning guidance on air and soundscape quality as it started consulting on its latest noise action plan.

It has committed to a detailed review of Technical Advice Note 11, which deals with noise. This TAN will be replaced with new guidance addressing air quality and soundscape.  

The draft plan aligns noise and soundscape policy in Wales with the cross-cutting framework established by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

It encourages greater integration between noise and air quality management activities by public bodies.

Environment minister Hannah Blythyn said: “Over the coming years, I expect public bodies in Wales to start thinking less in terms of pure noise mitigation and more in terms of creating healthier soundscapes for our communities.

“In addition, wherever air and noise pollution are both present and their sources are the same or related, they should be considered together rather than as separate problems.”

The draft plan stresses that revisions to Planning Policy Wales (PPW) introduce the concept of soundscapes into planning policy “recognising the positive role that they play in creating a sense of place, rather than solely focusing on noise as a form of pollution”.

The latest noise blueprint also for the first time makes the so-called ‘agent of change’ principle explicit.

It highlights that the consultation draft of PPW specifically requires the principle to be considered as part of all development plan and development management decisions concerning the compatibility of uses and soundscape.

This could mean identifying areas of cultural significance (i.e. live music venues) or areas where soundscape consideration is particularly sensitive.

The draft PPW stresses that a developer would have to ensure that solutions to address noise from nearby pre-existing infrastructure or businesses can be found and implemented as part of making sure that the development is acceptable.

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