Noise, the 'ignored pollutant': health, nature and ecopsychology
The sonic backdrop to our lives is increasingly one of unwanted technospheric noise, writes Paul Mobbs.

Mobbs, Paul

Publisher:  The Ecologist
Date Written:  09/03/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20563

For those who like to enjoy the natural environment, noise is something to be escaped from within the relative sanctuary of the landscape. These days that's getting harder and harder to accomplish. That's not only because of noise from all around - in particular from urban areas, roads and the increasing mechanisation of agriculture - but also due to the increasing level of air traffic overhead.



In 2010 the new coalition government conducted a 'bonfire of the Quangos' - closing or merging many of the government's advisory and expert bodies. For me one of the most significant was the abolition of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP). Since 1970, RCEP had produced some of the UK government's best, and most politically embarrassing academic studies on pollution and the environment - from nuclear waste to soil protection.

In 1994, RECP produced its ground-breaking 18th Report on Transport and the Environment. Against the background of the Government's road building programme of that time, the contents were inflammatory - and increased the level of protests against new road construction. In that report there were two maps which showed the level of 'tranquility' - the area of countryside unaffected by road, aircraft or urban noise - in the south-east of England. One map showed the 'tranquil' area in 1960, the other in 1992. Subtracting one map from the other you realize the level of 'tranquil' countryside which was lost over that 30-year period.

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