Noise protection measures

The managers od noise sources are liable to implement mitigation measures that reduce the excessive environmental noise caused by its noise sources to the regulated limits under the Environment protection act and the Decree on limit values for environment noise indicators. Mitigation measures are to be implemented on the basis of an action plan. The preparation of action plans for infrastructure (roads, railways) owned by the state is the responsibility of the government in compliance with directive 2002/49/EC.

The planning of noise protection measures is generally performed according to the following sequence:

  • Measures concerning traffic and spatial planning with regard to protection against noise
  • Measures to reduce noise emission at the source (transport means, infrastructure)
  • Measures to reduce the spreading of noise to the environment (noise barriers)
  • Measures to reduce the spreading of noise to protected spaces (building alterations)

Measures to reduce noise emission at the source

Limiting the emission of noise at its source is the foremost measure in reducing noise as it decreases the overall noise pollution, making it the most effective. There are a number of regulations that limit the noise emission of machines and equipment used outdoors, the emission coming from rail, road, and air vehicles, that are partially or fully integrated into Slovenian legislation.

Such measures are also implementable at existing sources. Road traffic noise pollution can be tackled at its source by reducing the speed limit, banning heavy good vehicles, resurfacing roads with absorbent material, changing regulation to enable smoother traffic flow, etc. Rail based noise pollution can be managed by changing railway sleepers, reducing the roughness of the contact surfaces of rails and rail vehicles, minimising the number of rail joints and switches, etc. Industrial noise from machines and equipment can be limited by installing silencers, adjusting the operating schedule etc. All of the listed measures require considerable financial means, thus a reasonable course of action would be to include them in capital costing models.

Measures to reduce the spreading of noise to the environment

This category of measures includes sound walls and banks along roads, railways, machines and industrial plants, noise enclosures, and others like appropriate building positioning. The core purpose of measures is to abate noise pollution in urban agglomerations next to existing or future transit routes. The planning of said measures is generally based on computationally estimated existing and future noise pollution in relevant areas.

Epi Spektrum d.o.o. is a market leader in this sector, evidenced by the great number of sound barriers and machine remediations that have been implemented as a result of its evidence bases.

Measures to reduce the outdoor noise in noise sensitive premises

These measures ensure that the noise levels in buildings stay within the limit values, defined by the Rules on protection against noise in buildings and associated guidelines, in cases when environmental mitigation measures are not implementable or economically viable.  This is achieved by improving the sound protection of the building, which generally includes improving the isolation quality of existing windows or installing new windows on the exterior sides of protected spaces that are insufficiently defended. This type of measures is the only means of protection for residents in dense areas directly adjacent to existing transit routes; it is also appropriate for buildings where geography prevents more general measures either due to immense costs or inefficacy. Epi Spektrum d.o.o. is a leading provider of technical bases and implementation cases in Slovenia, having been responsible for the installment of noise protection in more than 500 buildings next to state roads, and more than 1000 residences next to railways.

Measures concerning transport and spatial planning with regard to noise protection

Noise pollution is a key indicator of environmental quality, particularly in residential areas. Historically, this aspect of environmental protection has been ignored, resulting in a significant frequency of overburdened areas, many of which could be considered degraded. Future spatial development is beginning to acknowledge the value of planning the soundscape, that is to say, delineating the impacts and consequences of spatial planning acts on environmental noise pollution at location and in its broader area. This aspect is crucial because it does not limit itself to cataloguing areas based on their relation to the noise limit values, but further includes the areas in which a shift in the pollution will occur.

A characteristic exhibit of such development is the building of a major transit route in which the conventional model would only consider the over burdened area that might only include the closest 100 to 200 meters, whereas the soundscape would include the closest kilometre or even more. Residents in more removed areas still perceive the change in the soundscape as a detriment to their quality of life, and as a rule of thumb property value tends to decrease with it. Epi Spektrum d.o.o. specialises in evaluating the impacts of planned interferences on environmental noise pollution, our work is regularly included in the formation of a myriad spatial planning acts on a state and local level.