Environmental controls, Flaring, Noise

“Dear Aunty, isn’t flaring gas really noisy?”

Well, yes dears, it is. But only when you’re very close to a flare.

To answer this properly, pumpkins, I’m afraid we have to return to the science class at school!

Noise is generally described as an unwanted sound. For instance, a loud conversation at the next table in a restaurant can be noise if you’re not engaged in it and it makes it harder for you to hold a conversation of your own on your table.

So, in this case sweeties, you could say that the sound from a flare is a noise.

Sound itself is a transmission of energy through air, with the air molecules effectively transferring the energy from source to receptor.

Sound/noise can be easily mitigated.

For a start, my dears, we can fit barriers to prevent the sound energy from travelling too far. Trees act as a natural barrier, screening out sound (which is why we line our trunk roads and motorways with them).

But here’s the really interesting thing about sound: just like energy in the form of radiation, it follows the Inverse Square Law – doubling the distance from a noise source reduces its intensity by a factor of four.

So, the further away you are, cherubs, the less noticeable the sound or noise.

A diesel train travelling at 45 mph and heard from 100ft will put out 85 decibels (something the people of Balcombe will no doubt be familiar with given the frequency of trains crossing their much-beloved viaduct).

Shale gas exploration sites are typically located in relatively sparsely populated rural areas, surrounded by trees and hedges that act as natural noise screening. Flares in the UK, in these locations, will likely be enclosed and baffled to further deaden sound.

So, my dears, the likelihood of anybody being subjected to deafening noise day and night is very low indeed – and nothing like the footage in this short YouTube clip.

I particularly like the irony of the clown deliberately subjecting children to a noise level of 115 decibels after telling the assembled crowd that ‘health and safety’ insist on ear protection at noise levels above 80 decibels.

One last point to think about my dears: the photo below shows the location of Cuadrilla’s site about 500m away from the village of Balcombe. Assuming the clown in the video clip is correct and that the sound intensity of the flare is 115 decibels, then following the Inverse Square Law, the sound of the flare would measure just 61.02 decibels at the nearest residential properties or about the equivalent of an air conditioning unit heard from 100ft away – and that’s not allowing for the muffling effect of the trees in Stumble Field Wood and Upper Stumble Wood, which would reduce sound intensity even further.

Until next time xxx




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