John Connell Awards 2014

Local Authorities and industry showcased best practice and engineering excellence at the ‘Noise Oscars’ at the John Connell Awards on 5 November 2014.

The Noise Abatement Society Awards 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 kindly hosted once again at the House of Commons by Mike Weatherly, Member of Parliament 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, industry, individuals and organisations that have made a positive impact on the reduction of excessive noise in the community, helping to improve the aural environment.

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Eleven awards across six categories were presented by hosts Gloria Elliott, Chief Executive of the Noise Abatement Society and Professor Trevor Cox, past President of the Institute of Acoustics and Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford. They were:

1. The John Connell Local Authority Award

Kindly sponsored by Rockwool, and presented by Dan Rogerson, Member of Parliament for North Cornwall and Minister at Defra, and Darren Snaith, Rockwool Director of Refurbishment and Regeneration – recognises services, campaigns and programmes that are shining examples of community co-operation, education and creative solutions to solving noise pollution problems.

Highly Commended: Medway Council

For this council dog barking is the second most complained about noise issue behind loud music and is often linked to other welfare issues – Medway Council began it’s ‘a day for every dog’ comprehensive initiative in 2011 to tackle dog barking complaints and encourage responsible dog ownership. Medway Environmental team is now dispensing country-wide advice on this issue and winning national awards.

Highly Commended: Maidstone Borough Council

For its Community Aware Responsible Establishment Scheme (CARES) – a new noise management scheme to help business managers, including landlords of clubs, pubs and bars, to control noise levels in their premises. As a result of its initiative, Maidstone Environment Officers have received positive feedback from many licensees, and also from residents who live near pubs that have signed up, saying that their quality of life has improved since the introduction of this scheme.

Winner: Elmbridge Borough Council

For developing it’s extremely successful out of hours partnership service between Elmbridge Environmental Health & Licensing Department and the Police resulting in a comprehensive noise abatement service as well as its Online Noise Toolkit and Noise Code for Licensed Premises – 54% of public surveyed found the service excellent and 38% as good.

2. The John Connell Technology Award

Presented by Dan Rogerson, Member of Parliament for North Cornwall and Minister at Defra, and Mike Weatherly, Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade – recognises the crucial role that industry plays in reducing noise pollution.

Highly Commended: British Gypsum

For its unique floor system which attains a new sound insulation performance level for internal floors within dwellings, a significant improvement (+15dB) over standard building regulations which will enable significant reduction in noise breakthrough from one room to another so that different lifestyles may be enjoyed within the home without causing disturbance to other occupants.

Winner: Cornwall Council

For their far-sighted publication ‘Environmental Health Minimum Information Requirements for Wind Turbine Planning Applications’, and associated work to minimize the impact of new wind turbine developments – the Environmental Health Team developed clear enforceable guidelines for the minimum information required for planning applications to minimise the noise impacts and develop a consistent appraisal process of noise data post installation. Their work has been recognised and adopted in other UK regions with the result that the cases of noise complaints from wind turbine developments in their area have dropped dramatically.

3. The John Connell Silent Approach™ Award

Kindly sponsored by Brigade Electronics and presented by Christopher Hanson Abbott OBE, Chairman of Brigade Electronics and Claire Perry, Member of Parliament for Devizes and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport – recognises significant products and services which reduce noise for the benefit of the community whilst enhancing the environment.

Highly Commended: Echo Barrier

A new acoustic tent which has been developed to minimise disturbance by providing a practical, easily deployable and effective solution to minimise the noise impacts from small plant on construction sites like rock drills, pumps and grinders.

Winner: Milton Keynes Electric Bus Project

An innovative sustainable approach to charging electric buses; enabling quieter, cleaner public transport in Milton Keynes which now has the longest wholly electric bus route on trial in the world. Uniquely, the new buses are able to recharge their batteries wirelessly through the day. For the first time, electric buses are capable of the equivalent load of a diesel bus and it is envisaged that data from this project could kick-start electric bus projects in other towns and cities worldwide.

4. The Quiet Mark™ Award of Distinction

Presented by Poppy Szkiler, Managing Director of Quiet Mark, and Claire Perry, Member of Parliament for Devizes and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport.

Winner: Virgin Atlanctic

For its deep commitment to the long term reduction of its noise impacts on communities and passengers by facing its environmental responsibilities through collaboration, innovation, and a Noise Management Strategy that sets out a road map to reduce its sound output year on year.It is achieving this through significant investment in quieter aircraft technology, adoption of the latest operational techniques and engagement with local communities. Last week it introduced a fleet of quieter aircraft, the Boeing 787-9, which by 2018 will make up over 40% of its entire fleet.

5. The John Connell Innovation Award

Kindly sponsored by the Institute of Acoustics, and presented by Lisa Lavia, Managing Director of the Noise Abatement Society, and William Egan, President of the Institute of Acoustics – aims to encourage the development of new solutions to resolve noise pollution problems using a pioneering approach that addresses these issues from a unique standpoint.

The sponsors kindly acknowledge and thank the Panel of Judges for their time and assistance: Peter Rogers, Institute of Acoustics; Gloria Elliott, Noise Abatement Society; Max Dixon, Independent Consultant, formerly Greater London Authority; Dr Mike Goldsmith, Acoustics Consultant, formerly National Physical Laboratory.

Highly Commended: Rockwool 

For its range of innovative, highly specified acoustic products – Rockwool’s unique products are made from open, porous stone mineral wool, a natural material that provides unrivalled durability, at no cost to the environment, protecting against unwanted noise and fire. They are amongst the most effective acoustic insulators used in construction. Rockwool’s unrivalled range of specialist products allows users to design the right acoustic environment for each of their spaces – externally as well as internally – whether for simple DIY, large industrial spaces, or grand architectural designs.

Winner: Network Rail National Supply Chain

For the Mobile Flash Butt Welder (MFBW) – Network Rail’s National Supply Chain is responsible for the replacement of railway tracks, an often very noisy activity carried out at night, and a major source of noise complaints received by the organisation. The NSC recently embarked on a scheme to design and build equipment that can carry out rail repair and replacement in a quieter, more efficient way, and establish new standards for ‘Best Practical Means’. The Mobile Flash Butt Welder (MFBW) is the first equipment designed by the National Supply Chain with a specific sound power target and is at the forefront of Network Rail’s desire to reduce nuisance to their neighbours, with a target sound power of 85 dB to help minimise noise.

6. The John Connell Lifetime Achievement Award

Presented by Stephen Turner, Head of Technical and Evidence Team, Noise & Nuisance, Defra – is given in recognition of the Noise Abatement Society’s founder John Connell OBE. With it we honour individuals who have made outstanding contributions to raising the profile of noise pollution as a critical environmental issue and who have worked tirelessly over the course of their careers to effect solutions for the public benefit.

Winner: Professor Jian Kang

For his unstinting work in promoting the science of acoustics in the urban realm and for his continual drive for innovation and the standardisation of the emerging science of soundscape management. He is a Professor of Acoustics, and Director of Research and International Development, at the University of Sheffield, School of Architecture. Prior to this, he was Senior Research Associate at the Martin Centre, Cambridge University; a Humboldt Fellow at the Fraunhofer Institute of Building Physics in Germany; and a lecturer at Tsinghua University in China where he received both his Bachelor and Master of Science in Architectural Engineering. He received his PhD in acoustics from Cambridge University.

He is distinguished by his work in architectural and environmental acoustics, as demonstrated by over 70 prestigious engineering-consultancy projects, over 70 funded research projects, and over 800 publications. His work on acoustic theories, design guidance and products has brought countless major improvements to noise control in large scale engineering and soundscape design projects in urban areas. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and a UK Chartered Engineer.  He is the Environmental Noise Editor of the Journal of the European Acoustics Association and chairs their Technical Committee for Noise. He also chairs the Worldwide Universities Network Environmental Acoustics Network and EU COST Action on Soundscape of European Cities and Landscapes. He was awarded the John Connell Award in 2011 for his work on the soundscape research and design of the waterscapes for the regeneration of Sheffield City Centre, and the Institute of Acoustics Tyndall Medal in 2008.

In 2009 he spearheaded the UK’s representation through the British Standards Institute on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Working Group 54 for the development of the world’s first international standard on soundscape design and measurement. The standard was passed in September 2014 by an overwhelming majority, with 19 countries around the world committing to its adoption – including the UK.

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