May
18
2017

Party manifestos quiet on noise

While noise impacts everyone in their daily (and nightly) lives, and is increasingly linked to poor heatlh, it is rarely a  matter for national concern. However noise concerns fill the inboxes of local councillors and sometimes MPs. Planning, transport, community policing, licensing, green space and neighbourhood policies all impact on our noise environment. We’ve taken a quick look at the Consevative, Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos to identify any implications for future noise environment in the context of policy pledges.

Implictions of the Conservative manifesto are contradictory when it comes to transport noise. A commitment to investing in more roads and rail, including HS2 and Heathrow airport is an expansion infrastructure which will increase environmental noise.  However they say:

  • We will do more to improve the quality of road surfaces, filling potholes – especially in residential areas – and reducing road noise.p.81
  • We will use technology to manage our airspace better to reduce noise pollution and improve capacity. P.81
  • We will continue to support local authorities to expand cycle networks and upgrade facilities for cyclists at railway stations.p.26

There is little on the issues that impact on noise in neighbourhoods and communities other than:

  • We will build better houses, to match the quality of those we have inherited from previous generations.p.71
  • Help councils: who will build high-quality sustainable and integrated communities. P.73

No detail on whether quality would include planning and building for noise mitigation (or anything else)

  • Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development. P.25

Not good for noise – given fracking related operations in the UK to date have caused noise problems.

The Labour Party manifesto only makes one specific mention of noise – in the context of airports. The manifesto states: “Investing in our environment is investing in our future. We will defend and extend existing environmental protections.” p.95. Pledges that could help with noise prevention and protection include:

  • put people and communities at the heart of planning p.86
  • protect environmental standards in Brexit negotiations p.25
  • consult on establishing an environmental tribunal with simplified procedures to hear challenges to unlawful government decisions p.83
  • we will champion community policing policies and incentivise good policing practice
  • we will guarantee that any airport expansion adheres to our tests that require noise issues to be addressed p.94
  • we will invite the National Infrastructure Commission to recommend the next stages for developing and upgrading the National Cycle Network.p.94
  • we reaffirm the commitments in the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. p.94

Overall, if implemented, promises on community policing and planning, upholding environmental standards and investing in walking and cycling are all measures that have the potential to reduce the impact of noise, air and other pollutants.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto does not mention noise specifically but recognises that “Health and wellbeing are affected by far more than just the quality of health and social care services” p. 15.  A range of measures that would improve community and environmental health are proposed:

  • We will introduce a National Wellbeing Strategy covering all aspects of government policy, including health, housing and the environment.p.39
  • Create a community right of appeal in cases where planning decisions go against the approved local plan. P.61
  • Increase community policing in England and Wales by giving an additional £300 million a year to local police forces to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and increase the flow of community intelligence.p.72
  • The countryside, wildlife and urban green spaces are critical to health, wellbeing and a sense of community.p.50

One policy that taps into topcial concerns, which might bring them into conflict with community noise impacts is the pledge to:

  • Examine the available funding and planning rules for live music venues and the grassroots music sector, protecting venues from further closures.p.66

So in the unlikely event that your voting choice is determined by noise considerations alone – hope this helps!

 

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