The hugely controversial HS2 project has received a fresh blow this week amid suggestions noise levels could breach World Health Organisation (WHO) limits. Here we discuss what this means for the project and the local community.
In October 2018, WHO compiled new guidelines on night-time railway noise, recommending that it should be kept below 44 decibels as this is associated with adverse effects on sleep. However, it is feared that some of the trains on rural parts of the proposed HS2 track between Leeds and Manchester may have to go slower to avoid breaching the noise limits.
What’s all the noise about?
Maps detailing HS2’s likely operational sound have shown some homes positioned near the line may be exposed to noise at 60 decibels. This has propmpted campaigners to ask for the project to be axed. Joe Rukin, campaign manager of Stop HS2, which has 100,000 supporters said: “The extra money it would cost so that HS2 is not a danger to health in this way is just another reason to stop it.” Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen added: “These environmental concerns are yet another nail in the coffin of the HS2 project… It’s time for the government to put this huge white elephant project out of its misery.” However, a HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: “'The noise contour maps form part of the working draft Environmental Statement for Phase 2b of HS2 and show our work in progress. “These maps do not reflect the final scheme design. As we consult with communities and further develop the project, we will be ensuring that we take full account of the World Health Organisation's guidance on noise levels. “All our work on noise levels to date has taken into account World Health Organisation guidance. HS2 noise specialists formed part of the working group that helped develop these new guidelines. “Our noise levels policy also adheres with all applicable UK and European legislation.”
Why is noise mitigation important?
There’s been a wealth of research around the detrimental impact noise can have on our health. These include hearing loss, insomnia, stress and heart disease to name a few. Echo Barrier provides ways to help manage noise pollution in a number of industries and as noise experts, we have seen first-hand evidence of the damage that exposure to excessive noise can have on people’s quality of life.
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