As regions become heavily urbanised, noise pollution is turning into a contentious and serious issue for many directly involved. Infrastructure is being constructed at a rapid rate in order to cater for an ever shrinking world, with airports and road networks being the epicentre of this. In turn, management schemes and planning are taking centre stage as the primary techniques in reducing what has come to be known as noise pollution. 

 

A vital component of almost all large-scale urbanised areas is an airport. It is here where noise pollution can be at its worst due to the loudness of aircraft engines overhead. Because of this, flight paths (the route aircraft take when coming into land) are carefully planned and managed. In most cases, international airports will be situated on the outskirts of a city to avoid disruption to city dwellers, instead being in semi-rural areas. Aircraft will often come in to land or take off over sparsely populated areas of the countryside to mitigate disruption as much as possible. Despite this, concerns have been raised over the effects of noise on potentially fragile ecosystems, with animals less likely to use a location as a habitat if noise pollution is high there. The Airport’s location is crucial for nearby residents likewise. As mentioned before, airports are not likely to be built in extremely populated areas, such as Central London or Brighton, as the noise pollution is likely to cause irritation and distress within the community. Runway alternation can create a pattern of noise pollution in one area whilst giving another a period of quietude. Many people in close proximity to airports or flight paths may use double/triple glazing or soundproofing to block out sound from indoors.The most accessible management scheme is often seen as advancing aircraft design, through factors such as aerodynamics, materials and acoustic liners, a technology that lines the interior of the engine reducing noise.

 

On the ground, road networks are also large contributors to noise pollution. Whether it be in an urban area, where cars move more slowly but at a higher concentration, or in the countryside next to a dual carriageway or motorway, the sound of vehicles can be irritating and disruptive to local residents. With this in mind, councils and local authorities have been quick to implement measures to reduce the noise pollution created by roads. On larger and busier roads, soundproofing barriers have been erected, as well as large earth baffle mounds either side of the carriageway to prevent sound waves travelling each side. To tackle the noise pollution emitted from tyres running over the tarmac, porous road surfaces have been introduced in the hope that they will absorb such sound. This is especially important in the battle to mitigate the noise pollution from large HGV’s. Like aircraft, new designs are being developed constantly to mitigate the issue, most notably the production of cars that require no exhaust. As well as having environmental benefits, electric motors are also tremendously quiet, consequently reducing the disruption to local residents and ecosystems. The aerodynamics of cars are forever evolving to be better too, given the recent developments in wind tunnels and telemetry. Roads are the most common cause of noise pollution given the fact that there are so many, especially in and around urban areas. Once more, soundproofing and triple glazing are effective methods in reducing noise for local residents, as well as government induced precautions such as traffic management systems and speed limits.

 

Elsewhere, railway networks also hold the capability of creating noise pollution. Trains travel through both urban areas and rural areas on a daily basis, therefore meaning they are likely to be of disruption to both local residents and wildlife. To tackle this, areas with delicate ecosystems, such as national parks, very rarely large-scale rail networks through them due to the legislation surrounding construction on a protected area. In urban areas, local authorities have instated times of restriction in which trains are prohibited from using the railway, with these commonly being late at night and the early hours of the morning. As with cars and aircraft, design also plays a large factor in controlling noise pollution. There are constant efforts to improve the aerodynamics of trains, as exhibited with the French TGV, Japanese Bullet Train and Italian Frecciarossa, as well as lubricating the railway lines in order to reduce the noise pollution given off from the train running over the rails. Electric trains are looking ever more likely in the future that will also contribute to the reduction of noise pollution. Local residents take the same precautionary measures as with aircraft and road networks, with baffle mounds and sound barriers often being in place either side of the railways. 

 

In conclusion, technology is finding ways to manage the ever-increasing issue of noise pollution. In recent years, we have seen the development of new methods, notably improved wind tunnels and engine-silencers, as well as simpler techniques such as baffle mounds and steel barriers. When it comes to this relatively newfound type of pollution, the encouraging fact of the matter is that some of the technology required to nullify it is already among us, and the rest will be coming in the near future. Often technology gets a slating, however it is clearly the best way to reduce noise pollution.