8 Noise

8 Noise

8.1 Introduction

This section considers the potential health and wellbeing effects arising from changes in noise and vibration levels during the construction and operation of the proposed scheme.

The ES (Jacobs Arup, 2009a) includes a noise assessment (Chapter 16) which has been used as the basis of this section. This has assessed the operational noise and vibration impacts, based on changes in noise and vibration levels arising from traffic using the main crossing and new roads and changes in traffic volumes and flows on the local road network.

The study area for the assessment of operational road traffic noise was defined around ‘affected routes’ comprising new or altered highways (the proposed scheme), and existing roads predicted to be subject to change in noise levels of more than 1dB(A), identified using traffic forecasts predicting a >25% increase or >20% decrease in traffic flows. Noise calculations were carried out for all properties within 600m of affected routes, up to 2km from the boundary of the proposed scheme.

The ES (Jacobs Arup, 2009a) also qualitatively assesses the construction noise impacts arising from construction activities and construction traffic. Construction noise impacts will occur in the immediate vicinity of the proposed scheme and these are detailed within the Disruption due to Construction (Chapter 19) of the ES.

This section does not consider the effects of noise on occupational health and safety for construction workers. This issue will be dealt with in accordance with the Contractor’s Health, Safety, Quality and Environment Plan.

8.2 Evidence of Health Effects

8.2.1 Effects of Noise

The effects of occupational noise on health are well understood. However, whilst there is evidence to suggest links between environmental noise and various mental and physical conditions, the links are less well established and are more likely to be contributory rather than causal.

The main health risks of noise identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are:

  • pain and hearing fatigue;
  • hearing impairment including tinnitus;
  • annoyance;
  • interferences with social behaviour;
  • interference with speech communication;
  • sleep disturbance and all its consequences on a long and short term basis;
  • cardiovascular effects;
  • hormonal responses (stress hormones) and their possible consequences on human metabolism (nutrition) and immune system; and
  • performance at work and school.

The World Health Organisation in its Guidelines for Community Noise (Berglund et al.,1999) refers to a definition of annoyance caused by noise, as follows:

‘A definition of annoyance is "a feeling of displeasure associated with any agent or condition, known or believed by an individual or group to adversely affect them" (Lindvall & Radford 1973; Koelega 1987). However, apart from "annoyance", people may feel a variety of negative emotions when exposed to community noise, and may report anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, withdrawal, helplessness, depression, anxiety, distraction, agitation, or exhaustion (Job 1993; Fields et al. 1997 1998). Thus the term annoyance is used for convenience’

The same guidance identifies links between noise and social and behavioural effects include changes in everyday behaviour patterns such as closing windows, not using outdoor space, disengagement and non-participation.

As well as the characteristics of the noise itself, the degree of annoyance experienced relates to factors such as ability to control the noise, and whether the noise is perceived to originate from an important activity.

8.2.2 Effects of Vibration

The WHO Guidelines for Community Noise cites research showing stronger reactions in the above health effects when noise is accompanied by vibration.

8.2.3 Vulnerable Groups

The WHO Guidelines state that some populations may be at greater risk than others from the harmful effects of noise. Vulnerable groups have been identified as people with a hearing impairment, the elderly, babies and children, blind people, people in hospital or rehabilitating at home, people with particular diseases/medical problems (e.g. high blood pressure), depressed people and people doing complex cognitive tasks. However the Guidelines also state that there are no definite conclusions on this topic.

8.3 Existing Conditions

Traffic is currently the main noise source within the study area, with the levels of background noise dependant on distance from major roads. Noise levels are predicted to increase in the future in proportion to the predicted increase in traffic flows on the existing road network.

Figure 16.3 of the ES shows the predicted noise levels in the study area (dBLA10,18h) in 2017 without the scheme in place. This illustrates the level of traffic noise generated from the existing road network. Areas immediately adjacent to busier roads, including houses along Stoneyflats Crescent, are subject to a relatively higher level of road noise which would may detract from the enjoyment of outdoor space and cause annoyance. However the level of noise diminishes rapidly with distance from the major roads. Noise levels in the majority of residential areas in South Queensferry range from 47.5 to 53.4 dBLA10,18h.

On the north side of the Firth of Forth, properties on the east side of Rosyth are also adversely affected by noise from the A90 and M90.

A number of non-residential properties that are also sensitive to noise because of their use are currently affected by road noise, notably some local schools. In the 2017 opening year without the proposed scheme in place 4 schools are predicted to have noise levels in excess of 65dBLA10,18h.

The areas directly affected by the proposed new road alignments include some areas that currently have relatively low levels of background noise, for example the open countryside to the west and south west of South Queensferry.

8.4 Noise Impact Assessment

This section summarises the findings of the noise and vibration assessment undertaken for the ES.

8.4.1 Operational Noise

Measures have been taken during the design process to minimise the effects of traffic noise where practicable on sensitive receptors such as dwellings, schools, hospitals, care homes, parks and public rights of way. These include the location of the proposed scheme, consideration of topographic and landscape features and the design of earthworks, cuttings and embankments, and use of low noise road surfacing.

The noise model has predicted the current and future traffic noise levels and assessed noise impacts on the affected routes (defined in Section 8.1). An increase of 3 decibels (dB(A)) has been used as the threshold to identify significant effects. This is the level at which a noise increase is considered to be perceptible. The noise assessment also considers the number of sensitive receptors affected by the change in noise levels when considering whether the impact will be viewed as a significant effect and, as such, will require mitigation. Based on the noise assessment results, the need for further mitigation was identified in some areas where the potential for significant effects was identified.

Noise barriers are proposed within the ES as a way to reduce noise at the following five locations where significant adverse effects were identified:

  • South Queensferry Barrier: the proposed barrier is located on the east side of the mainline route. It would provide a small benefit to a large number of dwellings in the west of South Queensferry reducing, but not removing, noise impacts in this area.
  • Linn Mill Barrier: the proposed barrier is located on the western side of the southern approach viaduct. It would reduce, but not remove, noise impacts at Inchgarvie House and Linn Mill.
  • West Dundas Barrier: the proposed barrier is located on the southern side of the mainline route, north of Dundas Castle. It would remove significant adverse effects at Dundas Castle, the residential properties surrounding Dundas Castle and the properties at Dundas Mains.
  • East Dundas Barrier: the proposed barrier is located on the mainline route , north of Dundas Home Farm and the mitigated scheme is not considered to result in a significant residual adverse effect.
  • Kirkliston Barrier: the proposed barrier is located on the mainline route to the west of Kirkliston and would remove the adverse effect of the proposed scheme at properties on the southwest side of Kirkliston.

‘Significant’ Adverse Effects

The noise barriers will significantly reduce the levels of noise experienced at properties close to the proposed scheme. However, even with noise mitigation in place, significant residual noise effects have been identified at the following locations on the south side of the Firth of Forth:

  • properties to the east of the southern approach road in South Queensferry including Clufflat Brae, Springfield Lea, Springfield Place and Society Road;
  • the western half of the Echline Estate in the west of South Queensferry; and
  • the Linn Mill and Inchgarvie community to the west of the southern approach road.

Non-Significant’ Adverse Effects

When determining the significance of noise impacts, the assessment considers the number of receptors subject to the noise impact, the proportion of the community subject to the impact, the magnitude of the impact and existing absolute noise levels. Therefore there are a number of locations north of the Firth of Forth where properties will be affected by noise increases of more than 3dB(A) but this has not been assessed as a significant effect. These include the following locations:

  • houses on Mucklehill Park in Inverkeithing, overlooking the M90;
  • the westernmost dwellings on Ferry Barns Court , South Queensferry;
  • St Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge, a single residential property close to the northern approach viaduct;
  • Brock Street in North Queensferry which will receive less topographic shielding as a result of the reconfiguration of Ferrytoll Junction;
  • Dales Steading and Dales Farm Cottages in the north of the study area (indirectly affected by traffic changes on existing roads); and
  • dwellings facing onto Dunfermline Wynd in Inverkeithing and Hill Street in Rosyth.

South of the Firth of Forth effects at the following locations have been reduced to ‘not significant’ by the proposed noise barriers described above:

  • a small proportion of dwellings at Dundas Home Farm; and
  • dwellings around Dundas Castle and at Dundas Mains – these will still experience significant increases in noise levels but absolute traffic noise levels are reduced to below 50dBLAeq (WHO guidance indicates that few people are moderately annoyed at this level).

In addition, the following noise effects have been identified for non-residential receptors:

  • The Queensferry Hotel would be subject to major adverse effects on its north-western facades and major beneficial effects on its south-eastern facades. The hotel has rooms on both facades and therefore the overall impact is considered neutral.
  • Admiralty House/St Margaret’s Hope, a commercial building containing offices close to the northern approach viaduct, would experience a major adverse noise impact but would remain within reasonable levels for office environments as defined by the relevant British Standards.
  • North Queensferry Community Centre to the northwest of North Queensferry would be subject to a major increase in noise levels on its northern facade, but since there are no windows in this façade, this is not likely to result in an internal level which would adversely affect the internal noise climate.

Noise increases at Echline Primary School would result in an exceedance of the local authority’s guidance noise levels on part of the western façade. However there are no windows in this gable end of the building so the internal environment of the school would not be adversely affected. Existing noise levels on the northern façade already exceed these guidance levels. The remainder of façades with openable windows would be able to open windows whilst still maintaining noise levels within the threshold levels.

Effects on Outdoor Spaces

The noise assessment has considered the impact of noise on accessible outdoor areas. ‘Non-significant’ noise increases were identified on the south bank of the Forth to the west of the Main Crossing and at Duddingston Wood (north of Dundas).

Significant Beneficial Effects

The noise model has also predicted significant positive effects resulting from reduced traffic flows on parts of the road network. Beneficial effects will occur in the following locations:

  • dwellings along the southern edge of the Echline Estate which face directly onto the A904;
  • properties west of and within 300m of the Forth Road Bridge approach road in South Queensferry (including the eastern half of the Echline Estate); and
  • properties in the area to the east of the Forth Road Bridge approach road bounded by the B924, the B907 and the A8000.

8.4.2 Construction Noise Impact Assessment

A review of the construction activities for the proposed scheme, reported in Chapter 19 of the ES, indicates that the following, in rank order, are likely to give rise to significant noise impacts:

  • removal of the ‘cap’ of Beamer Rock to form the foundations for the central tower of the Main Crossing;
  • top driven steel tubular piles to support the temporary jetties used to provide access to the pier locations for the north and south approach structures for the Main Crossing;
  • marine (bored) piling off the north and south shore of the Firth of Forth;
  • mechanical rock breaking of the northern shore of the Firth of Forth for the construction of the north abutment; and
  • sheet piling for the temporary bund off the south shore of the Firth of Forth.

A summary of the results of the construction noise assessment is presented in Table 10 below.

Table 10: Summary of Construction Noise Assessment Results

Receptor Address

No. of receptors





St Margaret’s Hope (also known as Admiralty House)




4 months





5 months

Inchgarvie House

1 (ten flats)



5 months

St. Margaret’s Hope Lodge




1 month

The assessment indicates that construction vibration impacts will occur at the following locations, as a result of disturbance of occupants due to vibro-compaction of highway works:

  • Inchgarvie House; and
  • St Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge.

The construction noise assessment concludes that the adverse noise impact of the proposed scheme is low because there are few receptors close to the major works and because of the mitigation measures set out in the CoCP. These measures include a requirement on the contractor to develop a Noise and Vibration Management Plan and apply ‘Best Practicable Means (as defined in the Control of Pollution Act 1974) to minimise noise. Working hours will be controlled, and no impact piling will be undertaken at night. Solid hoardings and bunds or barriers will be used to screen off noise from construction sites. Where noise impacts cannot be avoided through these measures and subject to agreement with property owners, noise insulation work may be carried out.

The construction noise assessment therefore indicates that the construction process is not likely to cause direct health impacts. However, it is considered likely that the construction process will cause considerable anxiety among the local communities with regard to noise. Noise increases that are not considered significant in terms of the criteria used in the noise assessment may be perceived as problematic, and this could be exacerbated if the community feels that noise is not being adequately controlled or that there are insufficient procedures in place to respond to complaints. These issues have the potential to adversely affect the wellbeing of individuals within the affected communities.

8.4.3 Vibration Assessment

No ground-borne vibration impacts are forecast because in accordance with highway construction standards, the surface of the proposed roads would be smooth with no surface irregularities of sufficient size to generate significant levels of ground-borne vibration.

8.5 Mitigation Measures

8.5.1 Operational Phase

The mitigation measures incorporated into the proposed scheme to minimise the effects of road noise are described above and taken into account in the assessment of health effects.

8.5.2 Construction Phase

The CoCP includes a section on Noise and Vibration and this requires the Contractor to produce a Noise and Vibration Management Plan which will describe the measures to control and mitigate noise and vibration during the construction works. It also requires the Contractor to use Best Practicable Means (as defined in the Control of Pollution Act 1974) to control and limit noise and vibration effects in the detailed design of the proposed scheme.

A dedicated Community Liaison Officer will be available throughout the construction period to respond quickly to any complaints with regard to construction noise. The Community Engagement Requirements within the CoCP include a requirement for the Contractor to take reasonable steps to notify occupiers of nearby properties two weeks in advance of any works that may affect them. The notification will include the nature and anticipated duration of the planned construction works as well as details of the enquiries and complaints procedure.

The CoCP also requires that noise and vibration monitoring is undertaken during construction.

8.6 Assessment of Health Impacts

The effects on health have been assessed according to the criteria set out in the Merseyside Guidelines (see Section 4.6).

The available evidence (see Section 8.2) indicates an identified contributory link between noise and health effects and the degree of certainty is generally considered to be probable. The links between health effects associated with anxiety over perceived noise changes are less established. The degree of certainty for these issues is therefore considered to be speculative.

The assessment of operational noise is based on the predicted changes in daytime noise reported in the ES therefore these effects are estimable.

A substantial reduction in road traffic along existing roads, for example, on the southern approach road to the Forth Road Bridge and A904, will reduce operational noise for adjacent properties and nearby open spaces e.g. Echline Community Woodland. This will provide health benefits through a potential increase in use of outdoor space for physical activity and social interaction. Conversely, the occupiers of houses close to the proposed scheme who are affected by noise increases will experience reduced enjoyment of outdoor areas such as gardens. Adverse health effects resulting from this could include increases in levels of stress.

Overall, the health effects for operation of the proposed scheme will be both positive and negative and are considered to be negligible to minor in magnitude.

During construction, there will be adverse noise impacts for receptors in close proximity to the construction works. Although only temporary, the overall construction process is expected to last more than five years and the fear of noise disturbance and lack of control over the noise environment may influence health and wellbeing during this period. There may also be a reduction in the availability of some outdoor spaces used for recreation, particularly the Echline Field area which would be adjacent to the construction compound. Overall, the health effects for construction of the proposed scheme will be negative and are considered to be minor to moderate in magnitude.

8.7 HIA-Specific Mitigation

The following mitigation measures have been identified:

  • When notifying communities of planned construction works as required by the CoCP, the Contractor will provide information on details of proposed noise monitoring and any other mitigation proposed for during the works.
  • The Contractor will be required to demonstrate a commitment to its wider social responsibilities, for example through participation in the Considerate Constructor’s scheme.