«Application requirements for activities with noise impacts This guideline outlines the information to be provided to support an environmental ...»
Environmental Protection Act 1994
Application requirements for activities with noise impacts
This guideline outlines the information to be provided to support an environmental authority application for activities with
Table of contents
1.1 Using this guideline
1.2 What is ‘noise’?
1.3 Queensland environmental law
2 Making an application involving noise emissions
3 Environmental values of the site
4 Possible impacts to identified environmental values
5 Proposed management practices
6 Information and references
Version history Version Date Comments 1.00 31 Mar 2013 Original publication 2.00 2 Jan 2014 Updated links 2.01 17 Aug 2016 Reformat and update of references and hyperlinks.
Page 1 of 13 • ESR/2015/1838 • Version 2.01 • Effective: 2 JAN 2014 ABN 46 640 294 485 Guideline Application requirements for activities with noise impacts 1 Introduction This guideline focuses on the types of impacts that environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) can have in relation to noise, and outlines the information to be provided to the department as part of the ERA application process.
This guideline seeks to assist both regulators and operators of an ERA with the potential to have noise impacts to identify, quantify and evaluate the impacts on nearby sensitive receptors and to ensure that these impacts are managed in a way that achieves a balance between the social benefits of development and maintaining the environmental values of the receiving environment.
In general, there are 3 key areas to be identified and addressed through the ERA application process:1.
• Identify the environmental values of the receiving acoustic environment including the identification of any nearby sensitive places.
• Identify the possible impacts due to the proposed activity and all associated risks to environmental values.
• Identify the strategies to mitigate the identified risks to the environmental values.
This guideline describes the types of information that the applicant must provide to address the 3 key points above. The information provided will assist the department in deciding the application and conditioning the environmental authority.
1.1 Using this guideline The information provided in this guideline is updated regularly by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (the department) and is subject to change without notice. Applicants should check the department’s website for the latest copy prior to lodgement.
Sections 3–5 set out the information that applicants will need to provide to the department with their application.
Section 6 sets out some useful references to help applicants develop their application material.
The information provided in this guideline is general in nature. To assist applicants to identify key areas of concern associated with each ERA, further information on industry specific noise impacts can be found at www.business.qld.gov.au.
Additionally, the level of detail required to support an application will depend on the type of ERA proposed and its likely impact on the receiving environment. Some activities will require more detailed information to be provided. In order to assist applicants to identify potential areas of concern associated with their individual applications, applicants are encouraged to participate in a pre-lodgement meeting.
This guideline is relevant for applications for prescribed ERAs and mining ERAs. For applications relating to petroleum, geothermal or greenhouse gas storage ERAs, refer to www.business.qld.gov.au.
1 s125 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994
1.2 What is ‘noise’?
Noise is defined in the Macquarie Dictionary as a sound of any kind. The EP Act identifies noise as a type of contaminant and noise nuisance as environmental harm. In defining noise the EP Act includes vibration of any frequency, whether emitted through air or another medium. Therefore where noise impacts are to be considered in this guideline, consideration of vibration impacts must also be undertaken.
Noise may cause environmental nuisance or harm when it negatively affects environmental values, including human health and wellbeing (for instance by interfering with sleep, relaxation or recreation activities), community amenity or the health and biodiversity of ecosystems.
Examples of ERAs that commonly generate significant noise emissions include mining activities, extraction and screening, crushing, milling, grinding or screening, meat processing, timber milling and wood chipping.
Other factors that may increase the risk of noise impacts from a development include:
• Development particularly close to a noise sensitive place.
• Existing land use with a very low background noise level.
• Conducting noise-generating activities outside standard business hours.
• Conducting blasting.
• Particularly intrusive noises being generated by the activity (e.g. tonal or impulsive noises).
Determining the likely impact of noise emissions on environmental values can be complex. A number of factors influence the impact that noise can have. This includes the audibility and frequency of the noise, whether the noise is continuous at a steady level or has a fluctuating, intermittent, tonal or impulsive nature, whether it has vibration components, how often it occurs, the times that it occurs and the character of the receiving environment, including existing ambient noise levels. As a result, the impact of noise on environmental values is often undertaken using a risk-based approach. For example, measuring noise at a sensitive place2, where the impact of noise would be noticeable is preferred, rather than at the boundary of the project site.
All ERAs involving noise impacts are expected to incorporate all reasonable and practicable measures to avoid or minimise potentially harmful releases or actions. If the ERA cannot avoid potentially harmful effects, an impact assessment of these residual risks will be necessary. Depending on the identified risks, assessing the impacts of an ERA can be complex and may require a substantial body of information to be prepared. This generally involves prediction of potential noise emissions and comparison to recognised guidelines.
1.3 Queensland environmental law Activities that are likely to cause environmental impacts are called Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs).
In Queensland, the environmental impacts of noise emissions, associated with ERAs, are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) and subordinate legislation, including the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 (EP Regulation) and the Environmental Protection (Noise) Policy 2008 (EPP (Noise)). An environmental authority is required to conduct an ERA and will include conditions to protect the noise environmental values from environmental harm. Environmental harm is any adverse effect or potentially adverse effect on an environmental value and includes an environmental nuisance.
When making an application the applicant may also need to refer to the State Planning Policy 2014.
2A sensitive place includes a sensitive receptor for the purposes of the Environmental Protection (Noise) Policy 2008
Noise from other non-ERA commercial or industrial activities, or noise from domestic premises, is typically regulated by the local council.
The term ‘environmental value’ is used to describe the physical, aesthetic, social and cultural values of a location or proposed site. Specific environmental values relevant to noise impacts are defined in the EP Act and the EPP (Noise). Those prescribed under the EP Act are public amenity, public safety and ecological health.
Those prescribed under the EPP (Noise) are:
• The qualities of the acoustic environment that are conducive to protecting the health and biodiversity of ecosystem.
• The qualities of the acoustic environment that are conducive to human health and wellbeing, including by
ensuring a suitable acoustic environment for individuals to do any of the following:
− be involved in recreation, including relaxation and conversation.
• The qualities of the acoustic environment that are conducive to protecting the amenity of the community.
For each environmental value, there is a range of relevant acoustic quality objectives designed to protect that value. These can be found in schedule 1 of EPP (Noise).
2 Making an application involving noise emissions When deciding an application, the department is required to assess the application against requirements stipulated in the EP Act, including considerations stated in the EP Regulation and any relevant Environmental Protection Policy, including the EPP (Noise).
For environmental authority applications that have noise impacts the application must describe how one of the following environmental objective and performance outcomes for the ERA will be achieved. Under Schedule 5, part 3, table 1 of the EP Regulation the environmental objectives and performance outcomes for noise
emissions in Queensland are:
Environmental objective The activity will be operated in a way that protects the environmental values of the acoustic environment.
Performance outcome (a) Sound from the activity is not audible at a sensitive receptor, or (b) The release of sound to the environment from the activity is managed so that adverse effects on environmental values including health and wellbeing and sensitive ecosystems are prevented or minimised.
3 Environmental values of the site The first step in making an application for an environmentally relevant activity is to accurately identify the environmental values of the site. The following table outlines a number of different tools, strategies and suggestions to assist applicants in identifying the environmental values of the proposed site.
In addition to general information about the site and the environmental values, there are a number of key environmental priority areas which, if applicable, should be addressed in detail by the applicant. If they are applicable, these environmental priorities have regulatory assessment requirements and are required to be assessed by the department.
Environmental values Identify environmental values for the area, both on and offsite, which may be impacted by noise emissions.
Sensitive places Identify the location of sensitive places affected by the proposed activity on an appropriately scaled map.
Column 1, Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection (Noise) Policy 2008 lists a range of sensitive places, including schools, offices, kindergartens, retirement homes, domestic residences, natural areas (e.g. national parks or nature reserves), and some commercial premises.
Provide details of any potential future sensitive places affected by the proposed activity on a scaled map (e.g. a planned residential development). Relevant information may be sourced from the relevant local council or planning schemes.
Site description Provide a description of the site topography and the built environment, including features such as hills, valleys, buildings or thick stands of vegetation. These features may affect the way that noise is dispersed in the environment.
Describe the general climate and prevailing wind characteristics of the site of the proposed activity. It may be necessary to include information on seasonal variations as the wind characteristics may vary significantly.
Background noise levels Provide details of background noise levels, including a description of existing noise sources, within the vicinity of the site (e.g. road traffic). Background noise should be calculated taking into consideration the proposed hours of operation for the activity. Applicants should consult the Noise Measurement Manual for further information regarding collecting appropriate background noise measurements.
How this information will be used This information will be used to establish the contextual details, including the environmental values of the site and the surrounding area.
3.1 How information on environmental values will be used by the department This information will be used to establish the contextual details, including the environmental values of the site and the surrounding area.
This information will be considered when determining whether the ERA and its components can be operated on the site in a way that minimises the impacts to environmental values. If the application is approved, this information will be used to inform the conditions placed upon the environmental authority.
4 Possible impacts to identified environmental values Once the environmental values of the site have been identified, applicants must identify the potential impacts which are likely to arise from the proposed activity.
In addition to providing details of any impacts likely to be generated, the EP Act3 requires applicants to provide a description of the relative risks and likely magnitude of impacts on the identified environmental values.
The following table includes a number of key areas which, if applicable, should be addressed by an applicant in the application documentation.
Noise sources Identify all noise, vibration and airblast overpressure sources, including stationary and mobile sources, associated with the activity. Also provide a scaled map which shows the source of all noise emissions in relation to any existing noise sensitive places.
How information provided on noise sources will be used by the department If sound has the potential to be audible, the department will consider whether the release of sound to the environment from the activity may cause an adverse impact on an environmental value, including sensitive ecosystems, human health and wellbeing. This information will also assist to tie together the details of the ERA
being conducted and its site and surrounds. This will allow the department to determine: