Effective noise objectives for industrial and resource developments – setting, compliance assessment monitoring and audit
As a part of government approval of industrial and resource development projects, limits for noise emissions received in surrounding communities is a required activity. Governments have policies and regulations to set limits which are usually based on either achieving acceptable sound levels for amenity or health, often based on WHO guidelines. Limit conditions based on ambient sound levels become difficult for resource or industrially intensive areas, such as the Hunter Valley in NSW, for both governments and communities if policies are not followed. Monitoring is typically required to demonstrate compliance and specific methods may also be required for this. Demonstrating compliance with limits can be difficult despite extensive permanent monitoring systems. Auditing of the monitoring system and reported results may be rare. This paper reviews typical approaches to setting approval limits in some Australian and Canadian states/provinces and how they are typically monitored to assess for compliance. Limit conditions should be like effective specifications – have a sound level objective, location and conditions for assessment, and method, tolerance and reporting requirements. Some difficulties observed in recent projects are discussed improvements to make both limit conditions and monitoring more effective are suggested.