Under the UK Marine Strategy, the UK Government is working to ensure underwater noise generating human activities do not pose a significant risk to marine ecosystems. We currently have a limited understanding of the distribution of noise in UK seas and its impact on vulnerable species. To address this in relation to sources of continuous noise such as shipping, the UK has established a noise monitoring network, consisting of long term monitoring stations deployed in coastal waters. The information from this monitoring network will be matched with species distributions and used to inform future policy.
In order to reduce impacts, developments such as offshore wind farms are required to have pre and post consent monitoring plans which are managed by the Marine Management Organisation. For example, a Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan lists the appropriate mitigation measures that should be utilised during offshore activities that are likely to produce underwater noise and vibration levels capable of potentially causing injury and disturbance to marine mammals. Government departments including Defra and BEIS are working together to look at how underwater noise can be managed more strategically to reduce harm.
On land, the Government is committed to ensuring that noise is managed effectively in order to promote good health and quality of life. We have protections in place to avoid significant noise impacts through our planning system, our environmental permitting systems, in vehicle and product standards, and noise abatement legislation. Defra works with other Government departments whose policies could potentially impact on noise levels.
National Planning Policy Guidance sets out requirements for noise to be considered for new developments with particular consideration given to development affecting designated sites. Our network of designated sites are afforded the highest level of protection. Planning authorities must consider the potential impact of activities and works on or near these sites before granting consent. Noise may also be considered for certain types of development requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment.