Nuisance impacts on people’s enjoyment of their environment. Resolving nuisances requires balancing the needs of different groups. Noise has long been recognised as the largest nuisance problem in urban areas.

Key messages

Urban living and multi-occupancy buildings mean that we are never too far away from our neighbours. However, poor sound insulation in our housing stock contributes to noise transfer between homes. In some cases, noise can be considered antisocial, particularly if it exceeds set limits. 

Noise coming from commercial and industrial premises, and in particular from building sites, can create a nuisance. Construction and demolition are inherently noisy activities – piling, earthworks, vehicle movements and stone cutting all have the potential to create nuisance.

Noise created by roads, railways and aircraft is a feature of both urban and rural areas of Scotland. Few areas of the country remain totally unaffected by some form of transport noise, but this of course remains heavily centered on urban areas. Mapping of transport noise in towns reveals that noise has a complicated distribution. A noise map shows areas that are relatively louder or quieter.

Environmental noise

Scotland's noise

The Scottish Government has commissioned these maps in response to the European Parliament and Council Directive for Assessment and Management of Environmental Noise 2002/49/EC, more commonly referred to as the Environmental Noise Directive (END).

This directive deals with noise from road, rail, and air traffic, and from industry in the agglomerations in excess of 100,000 people. It focuses on the impact of such noise on individuals, complementing existing EU legislation, which sets standards for noise emissions from specific sources. 

The three main objectives of the directive are as follows:

  • To determine the noise exposure of the population through noise mapping
  • to make information available on environmental noise to the public
  • to establish action plans based on the mapping results, to reduce levels where necessary, and to preserve environmental noise quality where it is good.  These action plans build on the strategic noise maps.

To embrace their responsibility to deliver the requirements of the END legislation the Scottish Government published the Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

The Scottish Government has published Strategic Noise Action Plans for AberdeenDundee, Dundee Airport, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Transportation.

Scotland’s noise data

Scotland’s noise website allows you to view the noise maps showing round 2 and round 3 data.

Round three noise exposure statistics are currently being analysed and will be added to the website at a later date.

The key differences between round 1 and round 2 are the criteria used to select the transportation links that are to be modeled. Round 3 data is a five year update of Round 2.

  Round 1 Round 2
Major roads Roads with more than 6,000,000 (six million) vehicle passages per year Roads with more than 3,000,000 (three million) vehicle passages per year
Major railways Railways with more than 60,000 (sixty thousand) train passages per year Railways with more than 30,000 (thirty thousand) train passages per year
Agglomerations Agglomerations with a population of more than 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand) Agglomerations with a population of more than 100,000 (one hundred thousand)
Airports Airports with more than 50,000 (fifty thousand) air traffic movements per year and airports within agglomerations Airports with more than 50,000 (fifty thousand) air traffic movements per year and airports within agglomerations

Round 3 action plans will be subject to public consultation in the first half of 2018. Final action plans will be published and submitted to the European Commission by end 2018.

This page was last updated on 10 Aug 2017

  Adobe Acrobat Reader is the free, trusted leader for reliably viewing, annotating and signing PDFs.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader

State of the environment

Pages we suggest

Useful contacts

Civil Aviation Authority - The CAA has three key roles around aviation noise: deciding whether or not the design of contracted airspace can be changed; monitoring noise around UK airports and publishing information about noise levels and impact; and collaborating on and reviewing research into the effects of noise and how they can be reduced.

Health and Safety Executive - Deals with noise at work, and have a wide range of information and resources for employers, workers and their advisers to reduce and control the risks from noise at work.

Local authorities - Can deal with noise from loud music, DIY activities, barking dogs or other excessive animal noise, car and burglar alarms, deliberate banging or raised voices (where unreasonable). Local councils can act to stop unreasonable industrial or commercial noise (except those that have a PPC permit from SEPA).

Scottish Environment Protection Agency - Responsible for regulating noise from sites, or parts of sites, that have a Part A Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit.

Scottish Government - Responsible for delivering the requirements of the Environmental Noise Directive and publishing the Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006. It has also published Strategic Noise Action Plans.

Transport Scotland - Aims to ensure road construction schemes are designed and constructed to minimise the impact of noise, using high standards of environmental mitigation, wherever reasonably practicable.

The UK Noise Association - Carries out research and produces publications.