Quiet has become a scarce commodity in modern society. We are surrounded by noise from sources of all types. Traffic on our roads and railways accounts for a large share of noise-related disturbances.
ÅF has been commissioned to carry out a mapping of quiet areas on behalf of the Gothenburg Region’s association of local authorities (GR) and the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland (Lst).
The Gothenburg Region (GR) contains a large number of quiet areas. At the same time, large parts of the attractive recreational areas are affected by noise sources in society. To a certain degree, this may be due to the lack of any explicit objective to protect our quiet areas. The focus has instead been on protecting the population’s residential areas, and the noise sources have been placed in locations where they do not disturb residents. In future planning, new noise sources should be placed together with existing ones if we are to prevent the size of our quiet areas from shrinking.
Quiet areas are an important consideration for urban planning in general and for efforts to meet the regional environmental objectives. Quiet areas will serve as a basis for working with the experience values of the green wedges, where Delsjön-Härskogen is a sub-project.
An environment free from noise is needed for well-being and restoration. In the healthcare sector it has been found that a better acoustic environment accelerates healing, and a thesis from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp shows that there is a clear connection between stress relief and time spent in natural environments.
The noise sources with the greatest impact on presumptive quiet areas in GR are air, road and railway traffic. Industries and ports are often located close to relatively densely populated areas, which means that they do not affect recreational areas. Wind turbines, quarries, shooting ranges and motor sport facilities, however, are typically sited in locations far from population centres and create noise disturbance locally in the places where they are established.
A few of the quiet areas we have identified are:
- South of Alingsås
- Vättlefjäll, Alefjäll towards Risveden
- Northwestern Alingsås
- The southern section of Sandsjöbacka
- Southeast of Lygnern
- Eastern Stenungsund with Grandalen towards Älvängen - Lödöse
- The area around Tjolöholm
- East of Kärna
- The area around Öresjö
The greater parts of the quiet areas will be experienced as natural areas with only natural sounds. Under certain special metrological conditions, however, noise from human activities can be audible from a long distance and perhaps even in parts of the areas designated as quiet in this report. At the same time, the areas reported as noisy will be experienced by many people as completely silent. This is especially true when a small number of noise events affect the acoustic environment. How disturbing is it to hear the sound of shots being fired or an aircraft flying far overhead? How annoying is it to hear a low rumble from a distant motorway?
ÅF is of the opinion that this reporting of quiet areas presents a relatively accurate picture of where good natural soundscapes with a high acoustic standard for recreation can be found in the Gothenburg region.