Householders across parts of south County Dublin who are “mithered” by noise pollution from traffic on main roads, may in future hear a significant reduction in decibels, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county councillors have been told.
Acknowledging a growing body of studies which show long-term exposure to environmental noise can seriously harm human health, council officials told members on Monday night a new road “pavement” on main roads had shown a reduction of about three decibels – a figure that equates to reducing traffic volumes by half.
Council officials were responding after councillor Marie Baker said Stillorgan residents who had lost gardens decades ago to the building of the N11 “are mithered by the incessant noise” of cars passing close to their homes.
She said trees had been planted but had done nothing for noise levels while shielding the houses from daylight, making the environment worse for residents. Cllr Baker asked the council what noise abatement measures could be put in place to give residents peace of mind.
Councillor Jim Gildea agreed the noise was close to intolerable but said at Cherrywood some peace had been found after a wall had been increased in height.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council senior engineer Sean McGrath said noise abatement measures had mixed success, with the effect from tree planting being about “zero” reduction in noise. He said neither the council nor State road builder, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, had a department for installing noise abatement measures.
Mr McGrath did, however, hold out some hope for noise reduction as a result of the replacement of the “pavement” which he said was a term used to mean all surfaced ground.
Mr McGrath told councillors that a newer “pavement” had been installed on the M11 at Shankill and had been effective. The quieter surface was noticeable around the M50/M11 merge, he said, adding: “You can hear it get noticeably louder as you get down towards Bray”, where the older surface was in place.
Mr McGrath also said the new surface was being installed along the Lower Kilmacud Road “all the way out to the M50”.
He said “the change in materials can result in a lowering of noise by three decibels – equivalent to reducing traffic by half”. The quieter surface being rolled out progressively “will make a big difference”, he said.
Mr McGrath said most of the noise from traffic came from the rubber tyres on the road and it was really only at slower speeds that the engines were heard.
However, Cllr Baker said she was not overjoyed at the engineers’ response. “I came here asking for noise abatement measures but all I was getting was new pavement surfaces,” she said.