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Increases in noise complaints during the COVID-19 lockdown in Spring 2020: a case study in Greater London, UK
Science of the Total Environment  (IF7.963),  Pub Date : 2021-04-21, DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147213
Huan Tong, Francesco Aletta, Andrew Mitchell, Tin Oberman, Jian Kang

Many cities around the world have claimed that the enforcement of lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and the corresponding limitations of human activities led to reduced environmental noise levels. However, noise complaints reported by many local authorities were on the rise soon after the local lockdowns came into force. This research took Greater London in the UK as a case study. The overall aim was examining how noise complaints changed during the first stages of the lockdown implementation, during Spring 2020, both locally and at city scale, and how urban factors may have been influencing them. Noise complaint and urban factor datasets from the Government’s publicly available data warehouse were used. The results show that during the COVID-19 lockdown the number of noise complaints increased by 48%, compared with the same period during Spring 2019. In terms of noise sources, complaints about construction (36%) and neighbourhood (50%) noise showed significant increases. Urban factors, including housing and demographic factors, played a more significant role than the actual noise exposure to road and rail traffic noise, as derived from the London noise maps. In detail, the change rate of noise complaints is higher in areas with higher unemployment rates, more residents with no qualifications, and lower house price. It is expected that this study could help government with allocating resources more effectively and achieve a better urban environment.