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Indoor Assessment of Environmental Noise at South Street, Lochgelly From 15th August to 5th September 2014

Concerns have been raised by a resident at [redacted] South Street, Lochgelly regarding suspected environmental noise from the Mossmorran Complex which consists of ExxonMobil Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) and Shell Fife Natural Gas Liquids (FNGL), Cowdenbeath. In response to these concerns SEPA South Field Chemistry completed an assessment of the indoor noise.

A domestic noise monitoring system (Bruel and Kjaer Matron) was deployed to monitor indoor noise over a 21 day period (15/08/2014 to 05/09/2014).

Both FEP and FNGL, Mossmorran currently hold Pollution Prevention and Control Permits (PPC/A/1013494 – Part A and PPC/A/1013495 Part A respectively) and operate continuously throughout the year.

Daytime Measurements

Table: Daytime (07:00 > 23:00)

Date Daytime 16hr Laeq (dB)
15/08/2014 52.4
16/08/2014 38.2
17/08/2014 33.4
18/08/2014 48.6
19/08/2014 51
20/08/2014 48
21/08/2014 40.1
15/08/2014 44.7
22/08/2014 33.5
23/08/2014 43
24/08/2014 47.5
25/08/2014 52.4
26/08/2014 46.9
27/08/2014 47.2
28/08/2014 49.7
29/08/2014 34.8
30/08/2014 40.7
01/09/2014 40.8
02/09/2014 40.1
03/09/2014 40.5
04/09/2014 44.6
05/09/2014 50.5

Nineteen out of the twenty two daytime 16-hour Laeq measurements shown in the table exceeded the WHO daytime guideline value of 35dB(A)

Night-time Measurements

Table: Night-time (23:00 > 7:00) 8hr Laeq

Date Night-time 8hr Laeq (dB)
15 > 16/08/2014 27.4
16 > 17/08/2014 45.7
17 > 18/08/2014 24.7
18 > 19/08/2014 25.5
119 > 20/08/2014 37.3
20 > 21/08/2014 28.4
21 > 22/08/2014 24.5
22 > 23/08/2014 34.3
23 > 24/08/2014 34.6
24 > 25/08/2014 35.2
25 > 26/08/2014 36.9
26 > 27/08/2014 32.6
27 > 28/08/2014 34.8
28 > 29/08/2014 37.6
29 > 30/08/2014 35.9
31/08 > 01/09/2014 23.9
01 > 02/09/2014 27.7
02 > 03/09/2014 26.4
03 > 04/09/2014 25.7
04 > 05/09/2014 32.1

Eleven out of twenty one night-time 8-hour Laeq measurements shown in the Table exceeded the WHO night-time value of 30dB(A).

Tonal Noise Associated with Recordings

Noise can be described as tonal if it contains noticeable or discreet continuous note. This includes noises such as hums, hisses, screeches, drones, etc. The presence of tonal noise can give rise to complaints.

Tonal noise is generally more noticeable and more annoying than non-tonal noise of the same level; this is however, subjective in nature.

A tonal frequency is defined as a third octave frequency band that exceeds the adjacent two, third octave bands by more than 5dB.

The tones associated with each sound recording are outline in the table below.

SEPA Sound Recording ID Tones Identified (Hz) SEPA Sound Recording ID Tones Identified (Hz)
SREC1 16, 10k SREC16 None
SRE2C 10k SREC17 10k
SREC3 10k SREC18 10k
SREC4 None SREC19 None
SREC5 80, 160 SREC20 10k
SREC6 None SREC21 10k
SREC7 None SREC22 50
SREC8 None SREC23 10k
SREC9 None SREC24 None
SREC10 160, 10k SREC25 50, 10k
SREC11 50 SREC26 10k
SREC12 50 SREC27 10k
SREC13 10k SREC28 10k
SREC14 None SREC29 None
SREC15 50, 10k


The daytime (07:00 to 23:00) and night-time (23:00 to 07:00) MATRON measurements were compared against the World Health Organisation Guidelines for Community Noise. The WHO Guidelines for Community Noise assume that the noise is continous and steady over the 16-hour daytime or 8-hour night0time period. This comparison showed nineteen out of the twenty two daytime measurements and eleven out of the twenty one night-time measurements exceeded the WHO Guidelines for Community Noise. However, the unattended measurements taken by the MATRON should be taken with caution as the MATRON measures all noise (including traffic, talking, etc.) and not just that specific to the Mossmorran complex. Without undertaking attended measurements it is difficult to determine the contribution of the specific noise from the Mossmorran complex to the overall noise level.

When comparing the recordings against DEFRA’s criterion curve for the assessment of low frequency noise, there were several breaches noted, the source of the noise causing these breaches is not currently known.


Additional external noise monitoring should be undertaken (by SEPA) to determine the source of the problem noise at South Street, Lochgelly. At present, it is not clear the source of the low frequency noise breaches and the noise that the complainant is concern with.

Existing noise data reports / maps from the surrounding area including the Little Raith wind farm should be consulted (by SEPA) to gain a clear understanding of the noise sources, levels, tones and frequencies in this area.

View Full Report: 141105-final-noise-report_redacted (PDF)

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Mossmorran: 29 years of inaction | James Glen

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