Blyton Park Driving Centre: Noise Management Policy

VERSION 02/16:  Reviewed and updated February 2016.

 

1            Introduction

 

Blyton Park Driving Centre is owned and operated by Usher Retail Ltd. and is leased out to a variety of Clubs, Companies and individuals for activities which fall within the scope of the Planning Consents and Certificate of Lawfulness which governs activities on the site.

 

The site is not subject to any statutory noise limit save for the limitations implicit in the above consents and therefore our Noise Management Policy is self-imposed in the spirit of being a good neighbour. The policy incorporates the best working practice for minimising and restricting noise disturbance generated on site by motor driven vehicles.

 

Whenever motorsports take place and vehicles are driven on roadways or circuits which do not form part of the public highway there is the potential for noise disturbance. All venue operators have a responsibility to manage and minimise noise emissions so as not to cause nuisance to their neighbours. The management of Blyton Park take this responsibility seriously and to this end have a clear policy which is set out below.  The Company owns and operates its own calibrated noise monitoring equipment and the records from this equipment are kept and can be produced to third parties on request.

 

This document sets out the current Company policy on monitoring and control of acoustic emissions. These measures and controls may change over time as the results of noise monitoring, complaints and consultation are considered.

 

2            Blyton Park: History and Current Land Use

 

Blyton Park comprises the remaining runways, perimeter tracks and hard standing areas of the former RAF Blyton.  The airfield was taken over by the Americans in 1945 and finally closed as an active base in 1955.

 

Since 1955, the airfield has been a mecca for motorised vehicle enthusiasts and in the last half century it has hosted virtually every sort of motorsport including car and bike racing, drag racing, go kart racing, autograss, rallying, rallycross and other variants.  It has also been the place where generations of local people have taken their first tentative go behind the wheel of a car.

 

The prime areas in use today are the remnants of the southern runway which run parallel to Kirton Road which is used for Rally-sport and is also adjacent to the Autograss track built and operated by Scunthorpe and District Motor Sports Club since 1992.  This track is at the southern end of the site and can be seen from Kirton Road.  It is used for around eight weekends in the year between April and October for Autograss racing.

 

To the south of the Autograss track and its runway the eastern perimeter track runs in a broadly northerly direction past Cold Harbour Farm (now demolished) and eventually after nearly a mile loops round the bottom of the main North-South runway before facing south and links up with the remainder of the East-West runway.  The main North-South runway forms the backbone of the Blyton Park Tuition and Testing Circuit which is used for single venue stage rallies, Rallycross, Sprint events and Supermoto.  The runway runs broadly parallel with the A159.

 

 

3            Motorsport Activity at Blyton Park Driving Centre

 

The activities at Blyton Park Driving Centre are divided between competitive events and non-competitive events. Noise control for the competitive events is achieved by ensuring that the individual vehicles comply with the noise restrictions imposed by the national organising body for their particular event. This is usually a static noise emission test prior to competition. For the non-competitive events the noise control regime falls under the control of the Company and uses a drive-by noise emission test which is very similar to that used at many circuits in the UK.

 

3.1         Competitive Motorsport Activity at Blyton Park

 

The calendar of Competitive Motorsport activities at Blyton Park is submitted to West Lindsey District Council every year and is covered by its own planning consent and the Certificate of Lawfulness granted in November 2009.

 

The activities which take place are listed below with an explanation of what is involved and the noise control measures taken.

 

3.1.1      Autograss

Racing on the Autograss circuit takes place on approximately eight weekends per year and has done for the last 20 years.  Cars are static noise tested to a limit of 105dB in accord with the National regulations for the sport before racing. During racing officials at the meeting will call in any vehicle which they believe to be overly noisy for subsequent testing.  A PA system is used to inform spectators of events on the track and for commentating and this is adjusted to take account of wind and climate conditions.

3.1.2      Single venue stage rallies

These are held approximately three times a year at the weekend and last for one day.  Various stages will be created on the majority of the site and cars will run against the clock at intervals of one minute.  These events are run to rules and noise restrictions set by the Motor Sport Association, the governing body of British Motorsport and cars are noise tested accordingly.

3.1.3      Rallycross

These events have been held at Blyton Park for over fifteen years and involve up to ten cars racing together on a mixture of tarmac and loose surfaces over five laps of a mile course.  These events are also sanctioned by the MSA and run to MSA noise restrictions.

3.1.4      Sprints

Sprint events are held on the 1.5 mile test and tuition circuit and cars are scrutineered to MSA noise restrictions.  As the competition is against the clock cars run singly and never compete in groups or side by side.  These are held on approximately six weekends per year.

3.1.5      Other Events

Other events which periodically take place at Blyton Park are touring events which use it for a special stage or regularity trials.  In 2012 the “Flying Scotsman Tour” and “Tour Britannia” visited the venue in the week with the latter comprising of vehicles scrutineered to MSA standards and the former comprising vehicles manufactured before 1940 travelling at relatively low speed.

3.1.6      2 Wheeled Competition 

These take place twice a year.  The National Off Road Association run race meetings for Supermoto Bikes and lightweight buggies at Blyton Park.  This activity has been going on for 20 years and again this uses a PA system for commentating and calling competitors to the starting line. Competing bikes are scrutineered to meet the noise restrictions imposed by NORASport, the governing body of the British Supermoto Championships: this limit is currently 96db @1m at 45 degrees.

 

3.1.7      Summary

 

There will be competitive motorsport  over around twenty weekends of the year. All events entail vehicle scrutineering for noise emission and any vehicles which fail these tests are excluded from the competition. In addition, if any vehicle subsequently develops a fault which increases its noise output, it is re-examined and excluded until such fault has been rectified.

 

 

3.2         Non Competitive Events and Activities at Blyton Park

 

The Blyton Park Driving Centre is used for the following non-competitive activities:

 

3.2.1       Car and Motorcycle Track Days

A number of specialist companies hire the circuit for this purpose. Members of the public who hold a full driving license can pay to drive on the circuit, either with their own vehicle or one hired by the organisers. The primary purpose of these days is to allow drivers to improve their driving skills in a safe and controlled environment. All drivers are thoroughly briefed and go through a process of instruction which includes sighting laps of the circuit, briefings and advice. The circuit is closely managed to a strict set of rules with instructors, marshals and emergency services on standby at all times. No racing or timing is permitted and driving standards are constantly monitored to ensure the safety of participants.

3.2.2       Driving Experience Days

The circuit is used by a number of companies to allow paying customers the chance to drive high performance cars in a safe and controlled environment. As at 1) above, all drivers are briefed and instructors are present at all times to ensure that full control is maintained and many of the cars are fitted with dual pedals. No racing or timing is permitted and the aim of the days is to give a taste of high performance motoring to the participants. Even though these cars are usually road-registered, they are fitted with extra silencers to minimise noise under hard acceleration.

3.2.3       Tuition Days

The circuit is hired by companies and individuals for the purpose of intensive tuition. The purpose of these days is to teach drivers and riders advanced driving in a safe and controlled environment. These days typically involve no more than six drivers.

Club gatherings and events

The circuit is used by car and bike clubs for meetings which may include some instructional driving on the circuit. The circuit activity will be controlled and managed in the same manner to the activities at 1) above.

3.2.4      Product Launches / Dealer Days

The venue is hired out to vehicle manufacturers or dealers for the purpose of demonstrating vehicles to customers and /or the media.

3.2.5      Vehicle and Driver Evaluation

The circuits including the Grasstrack are hired out to organisations to evaluate the performance of vehicles and their drivers. These tests will generally involve monitoring of multiple functions using electronic data loggers, on-board cameras and segmental timing of sections of the circuits

3.2.6       Stunt Driving

Part of the venue is hired out to a Stunt Driving school who teach participants to perform various stunts in a number of vehicles at speeds below 30mph.

3.2.7       Cycle Racing

The circuit is used by a number of clubs for the purpose of racing and timed competition on bicycles.

3.2.8       Sundry Usage

In addition to the above regular usage, the venue may be used occasionally for the following sundry activities:

a)    Filming and Photo shoots

b)    The testing of any motorised vehicle

c)    Teaching Learner Drivers / Riders

d)    Training of marshals and emergency service providers

 

 

4            Noise Management Procedures: Overview

 

The Company owns its own noise monitoring equipment which is regularly calibrated and certificated to ensure its accuracy. A self-calibrating microphone is permanently sited 20m from the edge of the circuit, close to the start-line on the exit of “Twickers” corner at the Eastern extremity of the Outer Circuit. The microphone is permanently connected to a noise meter which measures noise levels constantly. The meter is itself connected to a computer whose software constantly displays and records the noise levels being recorded by the microphone. The software records both time and decibel levels so that it can report on both maximum levels and noise levels over time. Whenever the circuit is in use, personnel from the circuit monitor the data produced and act upon it to ensure that noise limits are adhered to.

 

4.1         Vehicle Noise Limits

 

4.1.1      Competition

For all Motorsport activities, competing vehicles must comply with the noise rules of the organising bodies for those activities.

 

 

 

4.1.2      Non-Competition- General Running

The software on the noise monitoring computer can be set to produce and store an alarm at a pre-determined decibel level recorded by the microphone. Noise mapping studies carried out by specialists in acoustics on behalf of the Company, readings taken by the Company and the adoption of best practice incorporating experience from other similar venues in the UK have led the Company to conclude that a level of 95db recorded by the microphone is the threshold beyond which sound levels at neighbouring locations may give rise to complaint. Consequently, the software is generally set to alert and store any readings above 95db and it is these alerts which prompt action from the Company’s management.

 

Depending upon climatic conditions and in particular, wind strength and direction, noise from vehicles on the circuit may be audible at neighbouring properties, but not to a level which causes nuisance.

 

Any vehicle which causes a reading above 95db will be identified and removed from the circuit. The owners will be given the chance to further silence the vehicle but if they are unable to do so, the vehicle will not be allowed back on the circuit.  All alarms are recorded by the computer and in addition a manual record is kept of the alarm, the offending vehicle and the action taken by the Company. On certain days , vehicles will be permitted on circuit which will exceed the 95db level and the restrictions imposed upon them are covered at 4.1.3 below.

 

4.1.3      Non-competition - Specialist and Restricted Running

Some racing cars and bikes, particularly historic vehicles are unable to meet the criteria at 4.1.2 above. Their usage of the venue is restricted in two ways: Firstly the number of vehicles is reduced so that in some cases only a single vehicle will be permitted to run. Secondly the amount of Specialist and Restricted Running at the circuit will be limited both in terms of hours per day and days per year.

 

The intention of these restrictions is twofold: Firstly, although noise on these days will be more audible, it should not be frequent or loud enough to cause nuisance to our neighbours. Secondly, such usage will be restricted to weekdays (excluding Bank Holidays) so that any impact on our Neighbours’ leisure time is also reduced.

 

As well as the computer’s sound record for these days, the management of the Company will keep a full manual log of activities on these days and the time restrictions imposed.

It is proposed to further restrict the use of vehicles which cannot meet the 95db @20m drive-by limit as follows:

“The number of days of Specialist and Restricted Running will be limited to 50 weekdays only during a calendar year with no more than five days in any calendar month and no more than 2 days consecutively. The number of hours which the circuit is live on such days will be restricted to seven between the hours of 9am and 5pm and there will be a compulsory one hour silent period from 1pm to 2pm.”

 

4.2         Hours of Operation:

 

Motorsport Activities will be restricted as follows:

 

4.2.1      Grasstrack:

The Grasstrack will not commence racing until 9am and racing will cease by 6pm.

 

4.2.2      Other Circuits:

All other motorsport will not commence competition until 9am and cease by 6pm.

 

All other track activity, involving more than a single vehicle, will take place between 9am and 6pm with the exception of cycle racing which will take place in the evening. Any car running on the circuit after 6pm must meet a reduced drive-by level of 88db @20m, with the intention that it should be inaudible at neighbouring properties. Should the circuit be hired out for junior driving  this may also take place in the evening but cars will be road registered and subject to a blanket 50mph speed limit. This activity will only be carried out by qualified instructors in cars with dual controls.

 

4.2.3      Camping

At events where participants camp overnight, there will be a strict noise curfew from midnight.

 

4.3         Other Noise Issues

 

4.3.1      Public Address System

 

Use of a Public Address system on the main circuit will be restricted to competitive events and club meetings purely for making announcements.

 

4.3.2      Tyre Squeal

 

Tyre squeal is an invasive noise. Despite the popularity of “Drifting” and numerous approaches from various organisations and Drift Schools, the management of Blyton Park have taken a policy decision that no solely Drift Events or School Days will take place at the venue. Two drift events have been run since the new circuit was constructed in March 2011 and despite assurances from the organisers, the noise generated was deemed to be outside the parameters of this policy.  Consequently, from May 15th 2012, events solely promoting Drifting have been excluded from Blyton Park. Some track days may permit some track time when deliberate drifting of the car is permitted but the noise created will be monitored by the drive-by meter and the time allocated will be limited to no more than two hours in the day.

 

On all other days, drivers generating excessive tyre squeal will be removed from the track, warned and if they are unable to modify their car or their driving style, they will be permanently excluded.

 

5            Consultation / Information

 

Blyton Park Driving Centre is owned and operated by Usher Retail Ltd whose principal is Mr Richard Usher.  The company and its Directors want to be good neighbours and also to encourage links with local communities to foster good relations and economic growth. The Company employs local people both on a permanent and part-time basis and advertises local businesses to the large number of visitors who come to the Centre in the course of a year. The circuit telephone is manned from 9am to 5pm during the week (01427 628922). There is an answerphone on this number outside these hours. In addition Mr Usher can be contacted by e-mail at richard@blytonpark.co.uk and these e mails will reach him at all times.     Meetings have been held with the Parish Councils of Blyton and Northorpe and dialogue is ongoing with local communities. In addition, the Company maintains a regular dialogue with West Lindsey District Council to review this policy and react to any complaints received. The Council continues to carry out its own periodic noise monitoring and although it can only comment on this policy the Company endeavours to follow their guidance as part of the constant review process. This process is ongoing and is influenced by “best practice” for recreational driving and Motorsport venues and guidelines issued by the UK Government and the World Health Organisation.

 

The website at www.blytonpark.co.uk includes a calendar of all competitive Motorsport, Track Days, Experience Days and other events open to the public. The calendar of Motorsport is also supplied to West Lindsey District Council at the start of the year. Any local residents who require notice of days when noisy vehicles might be using the facility as outlined above are invited to contact Mr Usher who will advise as soon as these days are scheduled.

 

6                Future Developments

 

Blyton Park is not a car racing circuit and has not been built for this purpose. The primary use of the circuit does not allow vehicles to run in groups and there is no plan at all to develop the facility to allow this. At all events where cars are active, they are run at intervals in the interest of safety and also to minimise cumulative noise emissions. The only exception to this is the racing on the Autograss circuit which is covered by the Planning Consent for Motorsport granted in 1995. There is no plan to intensify Motorsport activity at Blyton Park. The means of noise control will be a matter for constant review in the light of experience and evolving noise management practice.

 

Fortunately, the Motorsport Community is increasingly engaged in the debate on the environmental effects of noise and carbon emissions. Competition vehicles are much quieter than those of yesteryear with both Formula One and Touring Cars adopting new noise regulations in 2014. The owners of Blyton Park are no lovers of noisy vehicles and our stated intent is to ensure that vehicles using the facility are properly silenced to minimise audibility at neighbouring properties.