The basic job of any acoustic barrier is to provide protection from noise. But not all acoustic barriers are the same. Here, we provide straightforward answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about acoustic barriers.
So, an acoustic barrier (sometimes also called a ‘noise barrier’) is designed to protect people close to the source of a noise. Common noises which can be treated with acoustic barriers include construction work, industrial sites, roads/motorways and quarries.
Firstly, we all want to be good neighbours. This means not causing discomfort to people living or working nearby. But there are also noise control requirements enshrined in the Control of Pollution Act (1974) and the Environmental Protection Act (1990). These give prosecution powers to local authorities in cases of disruptive, excessive or dangerous noise.
Put a barrier in front of a noise, and it will react in three different ways. This depends largely on what the barrier is made of, and the type and level of the noise.
In reality, most acoustic barriers react to noise in a combination of these three ways.
Hopefully, it goes without saying that the least effective solution is one where most of the noise passes through! The most effective solution is definitely a barrier that absorbs as much of the noise as possible. But high absorption normally comes with a high price tag. That’s why in many large scale applications (for example, motorway noise barriers), cheaper noise-reflective barriers are selected.
Lightweight barriers are often used around construction sites. These tend to include a single layer core. This can absorb high frequency noise, whilst low frequency noise passes straight through. Ask your supplier for a multi-layer composite barrier. These contain a high density core, for significantly better noise reduction performance.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a myth that foliage makes a good noise barrier. In reality, even dense hedging tens of metres deep will only have a very slight positive effect. So, trying to grow your own acoustic barrier is probably not a viable option. That is, unless you believe in the old adage of ‘out of sight = out of mind’. i.e. if you can’t see the source of the noise, it won’t disturb you.
Careful positioning of the barrier can make all the difference to its effectiveness. Without going into all the complicated science about noise waves and angles, there is a simple rule of thumb. When selecting a position for a noise barrier, it goes like this…
You can position the acoustic barrier (a) close to the people you’re trying to protect from the noise, (b) close to the source of the noise, or (c) halfway between the two.
For the very best noise reduction performance, place the barrier as close as possible to the noise source. Not an option? Then the next best position is to place it close to the people. The worst choice is halfway between the two.
The simple answer is ‘no’. These days, temporary acoustic barriers are extremely sophisticated pieces of kit. They can be just as effective at dealing with noise. And they come with many advantages over permanent solutions. For example, they are usually much cheaper, often with renting or leasing options available. Also, they are much quicker to install, normally with a lot less groundwork needed. Finally, many of these flexible ‘temporary’ barriers are actually robust enough to be used on a semi-permanent basis – effectively giving you the best of both worlds.
At Sound Control Services, we offer a wide range of temporary and permanent acoustic barriers and other bespoke noise reduction solutions. Our customers include industry, commerce, public authorities and direct consumers. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.