After more than three years, the Ministry of
Environment (MOE) has finally released itsEnvironmental Noise Guideline, Stationary and
Transportation Sources – Approval and Planning(NPC-300). The Guideline, posted to the Environmental
Registry on October 21, 2013, ensures that MOE uses a single and
harmonized set of noise standards to evaluate ECA applications. The
Guideline similarly affects municipalities in land use planning
decisions. MOE will also use NPC 300 to evaluate noise complaints
under s.14 of theEnvironmental Protection
The update removes inconsistencies between standards that were
used in MOE's approvals process and those that applied to local
land use decisions. NPC-300 will facilitate urban intensification
while ensuring new residential developments do not push existing
industrial and commercial sources of noise out of compliance. Sound
level limits will be applied differently in the newly created Class
4 areas. While limits for Class 1, 2 and 3 areas assume open
windows in receptor buildings, the limits for a Class 4 area assume
mitigation measures at the receptors. These include closed windows
and enclosed noise buffer balconies, together with the operation of
a ventilation system or central air conditioning, thereby allowing
higher ambient noise levels.
In applying for or renewing an MOE approval, the owner of a
stationary source will remain responsible for compliance with
applicable sound level limits. However, where a site in proximity
to a stationary source is in the process of being developed or
redeveloped for noise sensitive land uses, the proponent/developer
of the noise sensitive land use is responsible for ensuring
compliance with the applicable sound level limits.
Meeting the sound level limits may require that noise control
measures be undertaken by the property developer, the stationary
source, or a combination of both. The Ministry says that mitigation
must be the responsibility of the developer of the sensitive use
and should be done in "a reciprocal, legally-binding and
supportive manner." Since there is no legal framework, many
stakeholders have questioned how municipalities could compel
developers and source owners to work together, especially if the
parties were not inclined to cooperate.
There are several revisions to the Guideline since we
saw it last
MOE made a number of changes to NPC-300 in response to the
comments it received when the Draft Guideline was last posted to
the Environmental Registry in November 2010 (and during follow-up
consultation sessions with various stakeholders). These amendments
clarifying certain technical definitions, including
"auxiliary transportation facility," "background
sound level," "enclosed noise buffer balcony,"
"exclusion limit," "noise control measure,"
"noise sensitive land use," "point of
reception," and "predictable worst case"
adding new definitions for a number of terms, including
"acoustic barrier," "agreement for noise
mitigation," "layover site," and noise sensitive
commercial and institutional purpose buildings
clarifying and adding additional guidance for the new Class 4
area concept. Such areas may be classified solely at the discretion
of the land use planning authority to facilitate new development
while protecting existing stationary sources
removing the proposed Class 5 area that was designed to address
situations where background noise levels are dominated by existing
rail and air traffic. Instead, the definition of "background
sound level" was revised to include the contribution of noise
from rail traffic
adding information about how the NPC-300 will be implemented
now that the final decision notice has been posted. Applications
for Ministry approvals submitted prior October 21, 2013 may be
assessed under the new Guideline at the request of the
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