Noise can be annoying or disturbing. Over time, if the noise continues or is too loud, it can impact your health and wellbeing. The impact can be greater when noise disrupts your sleep. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2009 linked sleep disturbance to cardiovascular disease.
According to Victoria’s Environment Protection Agency ongoing noise can also cause headaches, increased blood pressure, fatigue, irritability, poorer reading comprehension and attention in children and hearing damage when the noise is loud. https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/noise/noise-health.
World Health Organisation 2009 guidelines recommend noise levels less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) measured inside in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality and less than 35 dB(A) inside classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions (https://www.who.int/europe/news-room/fact-sheets/item/noise).
The North East Link Environment Effects Statement (EES) identified that the external 63 dB(A) daytime noise limit will be breached at 155 properties. External night time noise limits will also exceed the North East Link Scoping Requirements (aka specifications) by a massive amount.
The construction authority for the North East Link (NELP) is failing to implement the project Scoping Requirements and Environmental Protection Requirements (EPRs) and Australia’s best practice for noise attenuation. These are described as follows:
- The EES has not monitored existing road traffic noise near overpasses and ramps on the Eastern Freeway (which will be widened to 20 lanes). NELP is refusing to monitor road overpasses, e.g. Middleborough Road in an effort to exclude the overpasses from noise monitoring scenario.
- North East Link Scoping Requirements call for night-time road traffic noise attenuation to be 40 dB (a measure of noise) at façade (a position 1 metre from the ground floor window and 1.5 metres above the ground). Further references are to dB(A), which is the logarithmic measurement of dB adjusted as “A weighted” to correspond with what the human ear hears.
- The previous Planning Minister Mr. Wynne approved night time noise limit between 10 pm to 6 am of 55 dB(A) free field (microphone position three and a half metres from the building). NELP, on its own volition, changed this to 58 dB(A) at façade (microphone one metre from the window). NSW has legislated a maximum level for night-time of 50 dB(A) at façade for new roads, and 55 dB(A) for existing roads. NSW Policy says that at façade monitoring should not be added to if adopted in lieu of free field monitoring.
- Because the measure dB(A) is a on a logarithmic scale the traffic volume would need to be halved to reduce by 3 dB(A) and achieve 55 dB(A).
- NELP is also ignoring the upper level of a residence, i.e.it only includes the ground floor. Typically, the upper level window will incur an extra 3 dB(A) of noise. The NSW Policy and WHO 2009 include the upper level of a residence in their specifications.
- Much of the EES existing road noise monitoring was done above the recommended wind limit of 3 m/sec at 59 locations. This could distort the actual noise heard given different wind and atmospheric conditions. Furthermore, the EES wind data was obtained from the EPA Viewbank weather station, which is several kilometres from the Eastern Freeway. An arbitrary figure of only 63% of the wind data speed from the Viewbank weather station was selected by the EES to apply to the North East Link noise monitoring. NELP are refusing to factor-in worst downwind noise caused by the valley opposite side vertical concrete wall where this situation exists.
The bottom line is that if the Road Traffic Noise limits proposed by NELP limits are delivered, human health will be seriously compromised.