The year the world went quiet.

Cars, trains, airplanes, and even self propulsion all contribute to the general hubbub of life which leaves a constant impression on the earth via tiny vibrations measured through the earth’s shell, known as seismic noise. 

However, since we have all been told to stay at home over the last 18 months, the din of daily life has lessened leading to ‘Global Quieting’. A term coined by National Geographic. Global Quieting is perhaps one of the lesser heard COVID-19 phrases but one that we have all experienced as a consequence of worldwide national lockdowns.

Air Traffic

UK & Europe have been subject to a 90% reduction in air traffic.


2020 saw a 21.3% drop in vehicles on UK roads compared to the previous year.

Public Transport

A month into lockdown saw rail and tube use down by more than 95%.

The Royal Observatory of Belgium reported that this seismic noise, measured via a global network of 24/7 seismometers registers, saw the longest period of seismic dampening ever recorded.

The reduction of road traffic noise has not only left a physical impact below our feet but interestingly acousticians have been finding through their lockdown gathered data that ambient noise levels have fallen by as much as 10dB, which is roughly perceived as halving of subjective loudness.

This unprecedented phenomenon might be giving us a short term gain, but this is not expected to become a long-term benefit. Noise pollution is directly linked to economic activity therefore as we emerge from our sofas it is generally expected that the planet will be woken from its hushed state.

But what happens in the meantime? As we have mentioned, the drop in ambient noise levels in our everyday lives has made us more sensitive to noise. Now that we can venture out, how will the general public respond to noise disturbances that perhaps pre COVID-19 they wouldn’t have even noticed?

University of Cardiff Psychologist Andrew Smith “We adapt to living in noisy environments, but it only takes a slight change – a period of quiet – to find that very distracting. And I think there will be an adverse reaction to the return of noise – not just greater annoyance, but less efficiency at work, in education, in our sleep, as well as more chronic effects.”

Predictably, if we find noise more distracting and frustrating because of our increased sensitivity to it, noise complaints will rise making it harder for venues and events to obtain licenses they need or maintain good relationships with residential neighbours. 

What does this mean for venues? 

After 18 months of not being able to operate, most event-led venues are condensing two years worth of events into a year. Not only is this in some cases pushing them beyond their planning & licensing conditions, as most have a certain number of events they can host per annum, but it also carries them over into a category of stricter acoustic criteria to meet.

Planning criteria and acoustic guidance follows a scale determined by the number of events held: the more events the less disturbance that can take place.

The Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts (CPENCC) is generally used throughout the UK and considered the most pertinent set of guidance to follow.  It outlines the following:

To sum up, venues are caught between a rock and hard place. Not only are they having to host more events this year than any other year, but their neighbours are likely to be more noise-sensitive than ever before after becoming acclimatised to less hubbub outside of the occasional bird song! 

It is, therefore, essential for venues to make sure they are well within the above criteria for noise levels, especially when planning to boost events. 

Here at Direct Acoustics we have helped many clients fire fight over the last few months and decade , to prepare themselves for a throng of backdated events which may push them over the threshold unexpectedly. We have a number of noise solutions and are experts in understanding how to avoid complaints and get licensing approval. If you are concerned or need some guidance, contact the team today and we can discuss the best course of action to ensure you are compliant.

Want to check you are still compliant?

We would be happy to sit down and discuss any questions you may have.

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