Dr Andrew McKenzie, the noise witness for Lancashire County Council said the Preston New Road development would have unacceptable noise impacts on local residents and could be refused because it did not comply with the Lancashire Minerals Plan and the Fylde Local Plan. These are the key points on noise from today’s hearing.
- Stress and sleep disturbance likely
Dr McKenzie said the lowest achievable night time noise limits could still cause annoyance, stress and sleep disturbance at homes near the Preston New Road site. He said: “Stress and sleep disturbance will affect the ability of people to go about their everyday lives. I think this is very likely because of the nature of this development”. He added:
“If consent is given it is in the knowledge that it will generate annoyance and that may cause stress.”
- Night time noise reduction an unreasonable burden – Cuadrilla
Cuadrilla had offered to reduce night time noise at homes around Preston New Road to 39 decibels but it has withdrawn the offer, saying it is an unreasonable burden. The upper limit is now 42 decibels, the maximum in planning guidance for mineral developments.
- No guarantee night time noise limit of 42 decibels is achievable
Dr McKenzie said there was a 15% chance that Cuadrilla would breach the 42 decibel limit and little more could be done because the company said further sound reduction would be an unreasonable burden.
- 42 decibel night time noise level breaks planning policy
Planning policy required operators to minimise noise levels to avoid unacceptable impacts without imposing an unreasonable burden on the operator. Dr McKenzie said the 42 decibel level set by Cuadrilla was the maximum allowed by planning guidance so it “flies in the face of planning policy”.
- People acclimatise to noise quickly
Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, told the inquiry: “People acclimatise to new noise sources pretty quickly.” Dr McKenzie said he thought this would be unlikely in this case.
- Chronic night time drilling noise
Dr McKenzie said night time drilling noise would be chronic (long-term) for the people who were exposed to it. Their night times will be dominated by drilling for eight months, he said.
- Background noise exceeded for most of core sleep period
Dr McKenzie said night time noise from the Preston New Road site would exceed current background noise levels for 92% of core sleep periods.
- Noise surveys inadequate
Dr McKenzie told the inquiry the noise surveys for Preston New Road were not fit for purpose. They covered only one hour (Arup) or one day (Jacobs).
- Concerns about day time noise limits
Cuadrilla proposed an upper limit of 55 decibels for day time noise at Preston New Road. Dr McKenzie said he was concerned about how this daytime noise limit had been arrived at.
- British Standard not appropriate for fracking
The British Standard used by Cuadrilla, BS5228, applied to construction sites and not hydrocarbon drilling, Dr McKenzie said.