10 Areas With The Highest Levels of Noise Pollution in UK

Noise pollution has become a big problem in the United Kingdom in recent years, and deeply affects people's lives. Here is 10 areas with the highest levels of noise pollution in the UK.
October 04, 2021 | 16:19

For people locally, sounds waking them during the night is a regular occurrence, which prompted TheDozyOwl.co.uk to undertake a study to see where this is happening the most.

The study found that the borough of Hartlepool, located in County Durham, is in first place with an overall score of 98.75 out of 100.

Famous for its fishing heritage, this port town has high levels of rail noise with 100/100.

Results were determined using a geographic strategic noise mapping and DEFRA data to extract road and rail noise levels from 314 boroughs/districts within the UK. The decibel levels were recorded and through a weighted average score the areas were ranked.

What is noise pollution?

Photo: World Beater Centre
Photo: World Beater Centre

Not all sound is considered noise pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines noise above 65 decibels (dB) as noise pollution. To be precise, noise becomes harmful when it exceeds 75 decibels (dB) and is painful above 120 dB. As a consequence, it is recommended noise levels be kept below 65 dB during the day and indicates that restful sleep is impossible with nighttime ambient noise levels in excess of 30 dB.

Noise pollution and its potential harm

Noise pollution can cause health problems for people and wildlife, both on land and in the sea. From traffic noise to rock concerts, loud or inescapable sounds can cause hearing loss, stress, and high blood pressure. Noise from ships and human activities in the ocean is harmful to whales and dolphins that depend on echolocation to survive.

Noise pollution impacts millions of people on a daily basis. The most common health problem it causes is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Exposure to loud noise can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress. These health problems can affect all age groups, especially children. Many children who live near noisy airports or streets have been found to suffer from stress and other problems, such as impairments in memory, attention level, and reading skill.

Noise pollution also impacts the health and well-being of wildlife. Studies have shown that loud noises cause caterpillars’ hearts to beat faster and bluebirds to have fewer chicks. Animals use sound for a variety of reasons, including to navigate, find food, attract mates, and avoid predators. Noise pollution makes it difficult for them to accomplish these tasks, which affects their ability survive.

10 Areas With The Highest Levels of Noise Pollution in UK

Photo: InYourArea
Photo: InYourArea

10. Blackburn with Darwen

Photo: Britannica
Photo: Britannica

NEW data has revealed that thousands of noise complaints were submitted to Lancashire councils during the pandemic.

In Blackburn with Darwen specifically, over 600 noise complaints were made over a 12 month period.

Across the UK as a whole, there was an average of 1000 noise complaints a day during the pandemic accorsing to research by Churchill Home Insurance.

Nearly 370,000 noise complaints were made between April 2020 and March 2021, 28 per cent more than the previous year when 289,000 complaints were made.

Most councils (86 per cent) reported an increase in noise complaints in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20.

Neighbour noise has had a negative impact on the mental health of almost a third of Brits (32 per cent), some 16.7 million people, with neighbours playing music seen the worst noise for mental health (34 per cent).

This was followed by the noise from children (30 per cent), garden noise (30 per cent), parties (29 per cent) and neighbours coming and going at antisocial hours (24 per cent).

Despite suffering from increased neighbour noise nuisance, just 11 per cent of those affected reported it to their local council.

Based on a total of 370,000 noise complaints reported to councils in the last year, this suggests as much as 3.3 million noise issues were caused in 2020/21, an average of more than 9,000 a day and much more than those officially recorded.

9. Worthing District

Photo: Britannica
Photo: Britannica

Worthing is a seaside town in West Sussex, England, at the foot of the South Downs, 10 miles (16 km) west of Brighton, and 18 miles (29 km) east of Chichester. With an estimated population of about 110,000 and an area of 12.5 square miles (32.4 km2), the borough is the second largest component of the Brighton and Hove built-up area, which makes it part of the 15th most populous urban area in the United Kingdom. Since 2010, northern parts of the borough, including the Worthing Downland Estate, have formed part of the South Downs National Park. In 2019, the Art Deco Worthing Pier was named the best in Britain.

Worthing District places in ninth with 87.1/100, just 0.15 higher than Blackburn with Darwen with 86.95 out of 100 which rounds off the top ten.

8. Cambridge District

Photo: CBC
Photo: CBC

In eighth place, with 88.2 out of 100 is the Cambridge District. It may be surprising that this district does not have a higher score considering its proximity to London.

Because of its rapid growth in the 20th century, Cambridge has a congested road network. The M11 motorway from east London terminates to the north-west of the city where it joins the A14, a major freight route which connects the port of Felixstowe on the east coast with the Midlands. The A428 connects the city with the A1 at St Neots: the route continues westwards towards Oxford (as the A421) via Bedford and Milton Keynes. The A10 connects the city to King's Lynn to the north via Ely, and is the historic route south to the City of London.

With so many major roads on Cambridgeshire's doorstep, its a given that residents will experience some negative side effects.

Whether it's air pollution, flooding , or the endless rows of traffic up the A14, there's always something going on with Cambridgeshire's roads.

Noise pollution is a less visible irritant, and can often be harder to pin down.

The largest numbered road in the country, the A1 runs through the west of Cambridgeshire.

This part of the motorway, just south of Peterborough, is arguably the loudest segment of road in the county.

Some residents living several streets away from the road will still experience an average noise level of above 60 decibels.

7. Barrow-in Furness District

Photo: Visit Cumbria
Photo: Visit Cumbria

Rossendale District, located in Lancashire (90.45), Northeast Lincolnshire (88.9) Barrow-in-Furness (88.35), another district located in Lancashire, all score above 88 out of 100 for overall road and rail noise pollution levels.

Barrow topped a league of shame based on statistics gathered by a specialist research firm.

The research revealed there were almost 40,000 noise nuisance complaints across the North West.

It showed that, per 1,000 of the population, there were 12.5 complaints in Barrow. St Helens followed with nine complaints per 1,000 of the population.

The vast majority of issues logged related to noisy neighbours, shouting or playing loud music in the home, followed by barking dogs and then errant car or home alarms being triggered.

Elderly people are more likely to complain as they spend more time indoors, and with more homes now having wooden or laminate floors and wall-mounted TVs, domestic complaints are rising.

Of the 40,000 complaints, only seven ended up in court action, the statistics reveal. The majority were resolved using mediation or warnings.

6. Northeast Lincolnshire

Photo: worksmartlivewell
Photo: worksmartlivewell

North East Lincolnshire is a unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of Lincolnshire in England. It borders the unitary authority of North Lincolnshire and the non-metropolitan county of Lincolnshire, the three areas making up the ceremonial county. The population of the Unitary Authority at the 2011 Census was 159,616. North East Lincolnshire is part of the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

Nearly 500 complaints were made to the council in 2016 regarding loud music being played by neighbours in North East Lincolnshire.

Altogether North East Lincolnshire Council received 884 domestic noise complaints from local residents between July 2016 and July this year, with 499 cases of loud music, 226 cases of loud animals and dogs barking and another 119 comprising of DIY, alarms and other sources.

5. Rossendale District

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Rossendale is a district with borough status in Lancashire, England, holding a number of former mill towns centred on the valley of the River Irwell in the industrial North West. Rossendale combines modest size urban development with rural villages and is immediately south of Burnley, east of Blackburn and north of Bolton, Bury, Manchester and Rochdale, centred 15 miles (24 km) north of Manchester.

The borough is linked by the motorway network to Manchester, Burnley and Blackburn via the A56/M65 and M66 motorways. Bordering Greater Manchester southwards, it is 17.4 miles to Manchester city centre via the Edenfield by-pass and M66, with a journey time of around 30 minutes in a car. Alternatively the A56 route can be taken via Edenfield, Walmersley, Bury centre, Whitefield, Prestwich and Broughton.

The district has an overall score of 90.45, road and rail noise.

4. Wirral District

Photo: Travel Republic
Photo: Travel Republic

One part of Merseyside has some of the worst noise pollution in the country.

That is according to a study by TheDozyOwl.co.uk, which looked at noise mapping and government data on road and rail noise levels from 314 boroughs across the UK, to identify those with the highest noise pollution levels.

The study found that Wirral was the fourth worst area in the country for noise pollution.

Wirral suffers from this much more than any other part of our region according to the study, although the rest of Merseyside was also at the upper end of the league tables.

Sefton (20th) was the next worst hit borough in our region, while Liverpool (23rd), Knowsley (26th) and St Helens (40th) were all far louder than the national average.

Noise pollution can cause serious problems for those who are woken up at night and struggle to get back to sleep.

3. Hastings District

Photo: The Crazy Tourist
Photo: The Crazy Tourist

Hastings District is a territorial authority district within the Hawke's Bay Region, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It covers the southern half of the Hawke's Bay coast, excluding Napier City, which is a separate territorial authority. Hastings District Council is headquartered in the city of Hastings, the district's largest town.

The Hastings District, a seaside resort town in East Sussex, is most notably associated with the famous Battle of Hastings (1066). With high noise pollution levels in road and rail, it takes third place with 91.9 out of 100.

2. Bury District

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Bury has the second highest levels of noise pollution in the UK, data has revealed.

The Greater Manchester borough ranks just below Hartlepool in County Durham in having the most noise pollution caused by road and rail in the country.

One area of Bury which is undoubtedly hit by high levels of noise pollution is the Dicky Bird housing estate - which has the M66 running through the middle of it.

The decibel levels were recorded and through a weighted average score the areas were ranked.

Bury just missed out on the top spot with a score of 95.4/100.

Dozy Owl has revealed its top tips to help those in noise-polluted Bury combat sleep disruption.

"Regular exposure to noise pollution and disrupted sleep can lead to increased irritability, decreased cognitive performance, short tempers, stress eating and an inability to handle stress amongst others," it said.

1) Find some quality earplugs

The most common go to is earplugs. Investing in a high-quality pair, although it may seem obvious, is the easiest and one of the most affordable ways at reducing the night-time noise you’re exposed to. As with earphones, earplugs can come with different size tips to fit the individual ear comfortably.

2) Bed positioning

Bed positioning can affect the feel of room just as much as it affects the noise levels you’re subjected to. Simply moving your bed away from windows and outside walls can improve your sleep.

3) Noise machines

Noise machines emit gentle frequencies known as ‘white noise’ to disguise outside noise. They are very useful for those that struggle to sleep, especially once woken during the night. If this isn’t an affordable option, there are plenty of white noise videos available online.

4) Consider double glazing

It may be time to upgrade your windows. Double glazed windows block out a considerable amount of outside noise and if they are already in place, it is advised to check for any gaps or holes that may need to be resealed.

1. Hartlepool

Photo: Britannica
Photo: Britannica

The study found that the borough of Hartlepool, located in County Durham, is in first place with an overall score of 98.75 out of 100.

Famous for its fishing heritage, this port town has high levels of rail noise with 100/100.

Noise nuisance complaints received by the council’s public protection team did increase by 64% when compared to the previous year however, from 107 to 175 last year.

Noise complaints received during this period were also 20% higher than in the previous year and 2% more than the first quarter of the year, with a total of 179 received from July to September.

Officers also noted in 30% of all noise complaints received in this quarter music was cited as an issue.

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