Another often overlooked pollutant but one which is all around us is noise which has its own particular effects on our environment and health.
Noise pollution is on the increase due to our lifestyle of powerful cars, motorcycles, aircraft, hi-fi systems etc.
Following a complaint of excessive noise, officers from the Agency will carry out an investigation which may include the carrying out of a noise survey with the use of a sound level meter.
If the officer is satisfied of the existence of a nuisance then an abatement notice will be served on the person or owner of a premises causing the excessive noise requiring to either stop producing the noise or carry out sound insulation or other works to reduce the noise transmitted. It is very useful for our investigation if a diary is kept of the noise episodes. Details such as date, start time, end time and description of the noise is valuable evidence for the officer to assess the nuisance. Note that we do not assess noise arising from persons or from vehicles.
Noise from premises located in specified Leisure Areas is dealt with differently. If the officer is satisfied that a noise nuisance exists from one of these premises, the Chief Secretary as the licensing authority is informed. The licensing authority may then revoke the license for the premises for breach of its conditions.
The specified Leisure areas at present are:
- Eastern Beach
- Eastern Beach Road
- Ocean Village
- Marina Bay
- Kings Bastion Leisure Area
- Casemates Square
- Queensway Quay
More precise descriptions of the areas included can be found in the various items of legislation made under the Leisure Areas (Licensing) Act 2001.
European Noise Directive
The Environmental Agency is the Competent Authority for Directive 2002/49 EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (commonly known as the European Noise Directive). The Directive was transposed into Gibraltar law by the Environmental (Assessment and Management of Noise) Regulations 2006.
- The Directive defines a common approach, which is intended to prevent or reduce the harmful effects to humans of environmental noise including annoyance.
- In the first phase the Directive was applicable to major airports, railways, agglomerations over 250,000 persons and major roads with over 6,000,000 vehicle passages per annum.
- The Directive in Gibraltar was only applicable at this stage to two major roads namely Winston Churchill Avenue and Queensway. These were identified by carrying out vehicle counts in the major local roads.
- In the second phase the Directive was applicable to major roads with over 3,000,000 vehicle passages per annum and was applied to seven roads, namely, Queensway, Winston Churchill Avenue, Devil's Tower Road, Line Wall Road, Europa Road, Glacis Road and Rosia Road.
- The two main actions required by the Directive are:
(i) The determination of exposure to environmental noise through mapping. These maps are produced by modelling and computation and show noise level contours stipulated in the Directive. These maps have already been produced for our two major roads and have been made public on the Environmental Agency Website as required by the Directive.
(ii) The development of a Noise Action Plan.
- The noise maps from the basis for the preparation of an action plan to manage noise issues from the traffic on these roads. This action plan was developed in consultation with the Noise Action Core Steering Group of His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and adopted in January 2009.
- The Noise Action Plan has to be reviewed every 5 years. It was reviewed in 2013 and accepted in January 2014.