Updated AUC Rule 012 becomes effective August 1, 2019
A revised version of AUC Rule 012, Noise Control will come into effect on August 1, 2019 as well as an updated version of Rule 007 (application guidance). The new Rule 012 can be found here, and the new Rule 007 here. The AUC hosted a workshop to present the changes on July 3, 2019 which dBA Noise Consultants attended to question the AUC on some of these changes. This blogpost discusses the major changes to Rule 012, but there are many smaller ones that may be relevant to you, dear reader, as well. Your correspondent recommends getting it straight from the horse's mouth in all instances, or contacting us directly for specific situations.
1. If a project after approval applies for an extension of the in-service date, the NIA report must be updated and filed:
If there are major amendments to the approved facility. Major amendments are defined in the glossary to Rule 012 as changes that could increase the noise impact at dwellings within 1.5 km from the facility;
If the most affected dwellings have changed;
If there are new energy-related facilities that may influence sound levels at dwellings within 1.5 km from the approved facility.
2. The minimum basic sound level used to calculate the PSL is 40 dBA Leq nighttime. However, when the AUC was questioned about this it became clear that if the ambient sound level is less than the assumed nighttime ambient sound level of 35 dBA, the PSL may be established at a lower value. This is in line with the existing A2 adjustment practices, which could (at least in theory) result in a lower PSL value than 40 dBA.
3. The new Rule includes wording indicating that an applicant must assess the ambient sound level as part of an NIA, “particularly where either noisy or pristine surroundings prevail”. If the mandated values according to table 1 of Rule 012 are used, applicants must explain why these are representative of the study area; in our opinion a challenging task without reference data. It is not clear if this means that an ambient sound level survey is required for all applications. When questioned and in discussions, the AUC maintained that a justification would suffice, depending on the circumstances of the application and without elaborating what such a justification should entail. In contested applications, we think such a justification could easily be challenged, especially if no quantitative reference data is supplied – in other words, an ambient sound survey. It may therefore be prudent to conduct an ambient sound level survey where an application may either be contested, or where the predicted noise impact is close to the PSL (e.g. within ± 3 dB).
4. Several sections are devoted to various scenarios involving a new dwelling in proximity to an existing facility, a facility under construction or if construction has not started yet. These makes for interesting reading. Interesting cases that we can think of include existing facilities in or near (sub)urban areas, such as e.g. substations where housing has encroached upon the facility, especially now the deferred status for facilities constructed before October 17, 1988 has been eliminated.
5. Proposed facilities (A) have to be taken into account in other applications (B), if the application for A is “deemed complete”. The “deemed complete” status is defined – in general terms - in the glossary to Rule 012 and will be confirmed in writing according to Rule 007. There will be no separate registry of “deemed complete” applications.
6. Substations up to 240/260 kV, power plants smaller than 1 MW, solar power plants, gas meter stations do not have to file a full NIA report with their application, but a summary form per appendix 3 of Rule 012.
7. Receptor height should reflect bedroom height in NIA reports. Until now, some acoustical practitioners only included ground floor height in predictions, even if a dwelling included a second storey. Noise levels at 2nd storey height are typically higher than at ground floor height. In comprehensive sound levels surveys, representative data from multiple days or nights may be combined to satisfy the criterion of at least 3 hours of valid data in the daytime or nighttime period.