Community Noise Information

Understanding Noise

Noise in the environment is made up of a wide range of different frequencies. The human ear responds more to frequencies between 500 Hz and 8 kHz and is less sensitive to low frequency or very high frequency noises. To allow noise measurements to take account of the response of the human ear to differing frequencies, frequency weightings are used. For the measurement of noise associated with events at Parklands, two frequency weightings (A-weighted and C-weighted) are used.

  • dB(A) is a measure of the overall noise level of sound across the audible spectrum with a frequency weighting (i.e. 'A' weighting) to compensate for the varying sensitivity of the human ear to sound at different frequencies.
  • dB(C) is a measure of the overall noise level of sound across the audible spectrum with a frequency weighting (i.e. 'C' weighting) that places an increased focus on low frequency (bass) noise.

The figure below provides a graphical representation of the differences between the frequency weightings. It can be seen that the C-weighting is much flatter with only limited attenuation at the low frequencies. This weighting provides a better measure of the control of low frequency 'bass' music from the event sound system.

The Impacts of Meteorological Conditions

Certain weather conditions may increase or decrease noise levels observed at a given receptor location during an event. This is because certain weather conditions can focus sound-wave propagation paths at a particular area. Of particular importance to the propagation of noise from the event sound system are temperature, wind (including speed and direction) and the presence of temperature inversions.

For example, where winds are blowing towards a given receptor location (i.e. source to receptor winds) noise levels at the downwind location can increase. Similarly, where winds are blowing away from a particular receptor, noise levels propagating from the event would be lower at upwind receptors. These weather effects typically increase/decrease noise levels by 5 to 10 dB.

Forecast Meteorological Condition - Falls Festival Byron 2017/18:

A range of meteorological factors are considered before each event held at North Byron Parklands (Parklands) which then feed into the comprehensive noise mitigation measures that are put in place. Unpredictable weather patterns can affect the distribution of noise, which can carry some noise to the surrounding community, particularly wind speed and direction and temperature inversions. As a matter of course, such weather patterns will continue to be examined leading up to an event.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) Climate Outlook for Summer 2017/18 which covers the period of Falls Festival Byron 2017/18 indicates a neutral rainfall outlook over the southern half of mainland Australia. However, the 28 day forecast covering the festival period does show a mix of rain and sunshine. Rain can help mitigate noise, however noise propagation is most affected by wind direction and wind speed. Wind directions are predicted to oscillate significantly during the 4 day event period ranging from northerlies to southerlies. Wind speeds are predicted to be low. Stage managers and acoustic monitoring staff will be paying particular attention to changes in both wind speed and direction during the event to minimise noise emissions. Residents are encouraged to review BoM and other weather prediction services generally some 3-4 days before the commencement of the event (30 December 2017) to determine wind direction and wind speeds.

Management of Noise During Events

Parklands adopt best practice acoustic management techniques to minimise the potential acoustic amenity impacts on the surrounding community. This is achieved by incorporation of a range of design and management measures into each event held at the venue.

Design Measures

Best practice acoustic management techniques incorporated into the design of the event include:

  • Directing, where possible, public address speakers, event stages and speakers away from sensitive receivers;
  • Considering where possible, speaker directivity and selection of speaker arrays to minimise spillage of noise beyond venue area;
  • Direction of amplified noise is to be directed away from the Billinudgel Nature Reserve as far as practicable;
  • Where speakers are mounted on poles or otherwise elevated above ground, they are generally to be inclined downwards at a minimum angle of approximately 45 degrees from the horizontal or otherwise designed to reduce noise spillage to the surrounding environment;
  • Positioning event stages and speakers to utilise any noise attenuation to sensitive receivers provided by the natural topography of the site and surrounding area;
  • Using fixed or portable barriers (e.g. shipping containers) to construct acoustic barriers where necessary to limit noise emissions from event activities (e.g. behind stages);
  • Using time synced unattended noise monitoring equipment at receptor and stage locations to allow analysis of noise levels (front-of-house and receptor levels) post-event and calibration of predictive noise modelling for future events.

Prior to commencement of the event, the implementation of the control measures are audited and signed off by the independent noise consultants. Where further modifications to the noise attenuation measures are identified by the noise consultants prior to the event, they are implemented subject to consultation with event organisers as necessary to ensure that the implications for the security and safety (of event staff, performers and patrons), emergency personnel access, fire and traffic have been effectively considered.

Management Measures

The management measures adopted by festivals held at Parklands to limit the potential for unacceptable noise impacts on nearby sensitive receptors include both proactive and reactive measures.

Proactive noise management measures adopted include:

  • providing guidance for all sound engineers on the acceptable event front of house noise levels;
  • providing event stage managers responsible for the management of noise emissions from sound amplification equipment;
  • use of trigger levels by consultants to provide advance warning of the potential for noise limit exceedences;
  • undertaking consultation with community and regulatory groups; and
  • responding to complaints in a timely manner.

In addition, meteorological data collected by the on-site monitoring station is reviewed throughout the event to determine the requirement for further specific acoustic controls to accommodate the influence of weather conditions on the propagation of noise from the event. You can access Parklands Weather Station data here

Also throughout events, reactive management of noise emissions is provided through the use of event trigger levels. The trigger levels provide feedback to acoustic monitoring personnel and event stage managers where noise levels are approaching the noise limits at sensitive receptors. Warnings are triggered when short-term noise levels, measured at the mixing desk, exceed the event levels established during sound checks (or varied throughout the event due to variations in meteorological conditions). At any time where the short-term trigger levels are exceeded, the event stage manager implements strategies to reduce noise levels.

In addition, where attended noise monitoring identifies that noise from the event is exceeding the noise criteria, the acoustic consultant:

-Reviews the meteorological data recorded by the on-site monitoring station.
-Reviews front of house noise levels to determine whether they are consistent with the levels established for the event.
-Resolves conflicts between the actual and recommended front of house levels. Where required, the event stage manager(s) is contacted and request that noise levels be reduced with monitoring continuing at the location until event noise levels have reduced.