Local Authorities Sweep the Board at Awards

Local Authorities demonstrated their innovative side last night at the 11th annual John Connell Awards, dubbed the ‘Noise Oscars’.

The awards, held by the Noise Abatement Society, are named in honour of the Society’s founder, John Connell OBE, who successfully lobbied the Noise Abatement Act through Parliament in 1960 when noise became a statutory nuisance for the first time in the UK.

The awards were hosted at the House of Commons by Mike Weatherly MP for Hove and Portslade on behalf of the Noise Abatement Society (NAS) Trustees, and are designed to recognise and promote innovative ideas and initiatives from Local Authorities that have made a positive impact on the reduction of excessive noise in the community, helping to improve the aural environment.

Gloria Elliott, chief executive of the Noise Abatement Society, said:

“It was very difficult to judge the winner from the very high standard of entries that we received, but the overall winners of the John Connell awards demonstrated the successful creation and implementation of practical solutions. These solutions, together with the resulting partnerships that evolved have significantly helped to reduce noise pollution, enabling us all to benefit from a more harmonious environment.”

Speaking about the award, Paula Bateman, Rockwool’s Corporate Affairs Director said: “We are passionate about supporting the NAS and Local Authorities in their work to alleviate issues of noise. We are delighted to be sponsoring this distinctive award which recognizes the innovative schemes to reduce the impacts of noise on our busy lives.”

John Connell Local Authority Award 2011 sponsored by Rockwool, celebrates initiatives, campaigns and schemes concerning noise that are shining examples of co-operation, raising awareness and creative solutions for improving quality of life in the community.

The award was presented last night by Bob Neill MP, Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the ceremony was attended by representatives from DEFRA, Department for Transport, Olympic Delivery Authority and Transport for London, among others.

The Local Authorities winners were revealed as:

Winner: Westminster City Council, London: Developing a Noise Strategy through public consultation which enables effective mitigation, whilst building enhanced soundscapes

Westminster City Council have been developing and working within a detailed and comprehensive Noise Strategy since 2008. The objectives of the strategy are to manage noise from commercial premises and events, tackle transport noise, ensure sound-aware planning and building design, control noise from construction and utilities work, protect people from health-damaging noise, enhance the soundscape, encourage positive sound and minimize neighbourhood noise.

Westminster has responded to the challenge of understanding the noise environment by building detailed evidence base. This has been achieved through noise attitudinal surveys, noise measurement studies, analysis of noise complaints data, open-space noise study and aircraft study.

The Noise Strategy has been seen to promote the issues of noise and endorse the action required from partners to get results.

Highly Commended: Gloucester City Council – A holistic and sustainable approach to dealing with Neighbourhood Noise complaints

Gloucester City Council has streamlined the noise complaint system with the aim to mitigate the source of the noise more efficiently, and minimize its effects on residents.

The environmental protection team has abandoned the use of Noise Log Sheets and aims to dispatch an officer upon receiving a complaint in order to witness the noise as it is occurring.

Working collaboratively with Gloucester Constabulary, the team has aimed to better signpost its noise service amongst other partner agencies such as Project SOLACE, a joint Police and city council funded Anti-Social Behaviour Team, Gloucester City Homes and Police Safer Communities Teams, so that they can draw on the City Council’s experience and resources, avoiding replication of data and procedures across partnership agencies.

Highly Commended: Worcestershire Regulatory Services – redesigning principles of workflow and direct action to enhance effectiveness

Worcestershire Regulatory services is a new shared service formed in June 2010, bringing Environmental Health & Licensing services from 6 Districts (Bromsgrove, Malvern, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon and Wyre Forest) together with Trading Standards at Worcester County Council. This amalgamation has led to a major transformation in management systems – assessing workflow, establishing the purpose of the service and challenging current logics to redesign the process.

The Noise Nuisance team, using “System Thinking” has since become a more customer-centric service, defining and agreeing with the complainant the next course of action, taking direct action to deal more efficiently and effectively with noise issues, and doing away with lengthy noise log sheets and largely ineffectual warning letters.

Local Authorities were also recognized for the following award:

European SoundScape Award, sponsored by Environment Agency (EEA) and Brigade Electronics – this new award recognises important initiatives undertaken in Europe to improve the aural environment for the benefit of all. It aims to encourage and disseminate good practices that can assist other European countries embarking on aural improvement programmes, especially in urban environments.

Winner: The Dutch Municipality of Wijchen and the Province of Gelderland

The Graafseweg reconstruction project represented a unique combination of measures to produce an innovative, atttractive and sustainable solution to traffic noise reduction. To appease residents and reduce noise along a busy road, five basic measures were adopted which, together, would prove to be as effective as the previously suggested four meter high sound barriers which would divide the town. By moving and reducing the number of lanes of traffic, partly sinking the road, installing low-level sound barriers, using special ‘quiet’ asphalt and reducing the maximum speed through Alverna, a reduction in noise levels of more than 10 dB could be achieved.

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