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Scottish Government to tackle noise pollution with help from Ordnance Survey

Mapping from Ordnance Survey is behind newly published action plans to tackle unwanted noise in Scotland.

The action plans, published by the Scottish Government this week, are based on innovative noise maps underpinned by Ordnance Survey data and created by acoustic experts Hamilton & McGregor. The maps cover all major roads, airports and rail lines. Users can search by postcode, zoom and move around to compare with other areas nearby.

The result is a striking and graphic representation of noise levels in different parts of the country.

It is hoped that the maps and action plans will help tackle the problem of unwanted and excessive noise. Minister for the Environment Michael Russell says: “Noise is often referred to as the forgotten pollutant, but the Scottish Government is determined to do more to highlight, and therefore deal with, the problem of excessive noise. Improving our environment is a key part of our plans for a greener Scotland.

“I want to look at what is feasible to reduce excessive noise and make Scotland a quieter place.”

The noise map study harnesses computer software that can take account of landscape features and how they affect the spread of different sounds. This includes whether something is acoustically absorbent, such as trees and vegetation, or reflective like concrete and water. All this information is then overlaid on Ordnance Survey mapping data.

Ordnance Survey’s Director of Products, Peter ter Haar, says the project is one of the more unusual ways its mapping data has been used. “Accurate mapping can provide a vital location context to a huge range of projects, but this is an especially innovative use of our mapping data.

“I hope this project will highlight the impact excessive noise has on people’s lives and, most importantly, the steps that can be taken to protect them.”

In September 2007 Scotland became the first administration in the UK to publish a full set of environmental noise maps as required by the EU Environmental Noise Directive. The draft action plans seek to identify areas where noise may have the greatest impact on residents and have now been issued for consultation.

For more information, including the noise maps and how they will be used, visit: https://www.scottishnoisemapping.org/