Environmental Noise Guideline: Stationary and Transportation Sources – Approval and Planning
The Ministry of Ontario environmental noise guideline publication NPC-300 was published October 2013, and replaces the following four previous noise pollution control publications:
- Publication LU-131 – Noise Assessment Criteria in Land Use Planning, October 1997;
- Noise Assessment Criteria in Land Use Planning: Requirements, Procedures and Implementation, October 1997;
- Publication NPC-205 – Sound Level Limits for Stationary Sources in Class 1 and 2 Areas (Urban, October 1995; and,
- Publication NPC-232 – Sound Level Limits for Stationary Sources in Class 3 Areas (Rural), October 1995.
The main purpose of the NPC-300 document is to provide a single guideline that combines information in previous NPC guidelines for sound level limits for noise sources with respect to their impact at noise sensitive land uses, and planning guidelines for new noise sensitive developments in areas that contain existing noise sources (previously provided in the Land Use Planning Documents). The combined NPC-300 document addresses previous conflicts between the superseded documents.
As a combined document, the guideline serves four purposes:
- To provide sound level limits to stationary noise sources. The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) formerly the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) enforces these sound level limits under the Environmental Protection Act through the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) Process.
- To provide guidance and advice with respect to sound level limits that may be used for land use planning by planning authorities, developers, and consultants. The MECP has no authority under the Planning Act and therefore does not enforce the planning guidelines; however, the guideline provides the opportunity for planning authorities to officially designate new developments as Class 4 areas which will be recognized by the MECP during the ECA process for nearby commercial and industrial facilities.
- To provide sound level limits that may be incorporated into noise control by-laws developed by municipalities.
- To provide sound level limits that may be applied under the provisions of the Aggregate Resources Act.
The major changes brought about in the NPC-300 document from the superseded NPC documents are:
the separation of sound level limits for outdoor points of reception and plane of window points of reception, both of which must be assessed through the ECA process;
the addition of a Class 4 area that may be considered during the ECA process only if an area is officially designated as Class 4 by the planning authority;
updated exclusion limits for impulsive sounds; and,
an allowance for a five (5) decibel (dB) increase over the sound level limit for operating emergency equipment under non-emergency situations (such as testing and maintenance).
The major change in the NPC-300 document from the superseded Land Use Planning documents is guidance for the official designation of a Class 4 Area. Stationary noise sources at commercial, industrial, or large residential facilities are required to demonstrate compliance with sound level limits (as per the above paragraph) at noise sensitive points of reception. When land use planning decisions are made to establish a new noise sensitive land use (such as a residential development), the addition of new points of reception can affect the ability of a pre-existing facility to continue to comply with the sound level limits. The Class 4 designation is a means for planning authorities to consider existing noise sources in the decisions relating to new developments, and to encourage a coordinated approach between the developer, the planning authority, and the operators of existing facilities, to ensure that existing facilities can maintain environmental compliance (without additional costs incurred for noise abatement) while at the same time, occupants of the noise sensitive development are provided a suitable acoustic environment.
The coordinated approach includes guidelines for noise control measures that may be implemented at the new development to reduce the noise impact on the occupants. Certain noise control measures described in the NPC-300 document, when implemented at a development in a Class 4 area, are permitted by the Ministry of the Environment to be included in the noise impact assessment completed by a facility applying for an ECA; whereas in Class 1, 2, and 3 areas, noise control measures must be incorporated at the facility.
Other guidelines in the NPC-300 document include guidelines for the completion of Noise Impact Assessments as a tool for planners to assess the feasibility of new developments with respect to the existing noise environment. Recommendations for sound level limits at the proposed development are provided for different types of noise sources (noise from aircraft, noise from surface transportation, and noise from stationary sources), as well as guidance for methods of calculating the impact of the different types of noise sources on the proposed development.
With seasoned planners as well as experienced acoustic engineers on staff, Cambium is in a unique position to offer services to planning authorities and developers that combines the understanding of the wide scope of land use planning considerations with the technical requirements of noise impact assessments.