A NEW 'noise camera' is being trialled in a crackdown on vehicles which are breaking legal noise limits and disturbing communities.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed the new camera technology aims to measure the sound levels of passing vehicles to detect those that are breaking the law on noise limits.

Research commissioned by the DfT found that a noise camera system could also help to catch those who rev car or motorcycles engines beyond legal limits, making life a misery for those who live close by.

Oxford Mail:

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: "Noise pollution makes the lives of people in communities across Britain an absolute misery and has very serious health impacts.

"This is why I am determined to crack down on the nuisance drivers who blight our streets.

"New technology will help us lead the way in making our towns and cities quieter, and I look forward to seeing how these exciting new cameras could work."

All vehicles must legally meet strict noise limits before they are allowed on the road.

Once a vehicle is in service, exhausts and silencers must by law be maintained in good working order and not altered to increase noise.

As part of the trial, automated number plate recognition could be used to help enforce the law.

Tony Campbell, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association, said: "With growing pressure on the environment, including noise pollution, illegal exhausts fitted by some riders attract unwanted attention to the motorcycle community and do nothing to promote the many benefits motorcycles can offer.

"All manufacturers produce new motorcycles that follow strict regulations regarding noise and emissions and we welcome these trials as a potential way of detecting excessive noise in our community."

Oxford Mail:

Studies have found that exposure to noise can have significant physical and mental health implications – with heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stress all linked to long-term contact with loud environments.

Currently, enforcement is mainly reactive and relies on subjective judgement.

The trials of the new technology will determine whether the legal noise limit has been breached by taking into account the class and speed of the vehicle relative to the location of the noise camera.

The government has commissioned a prototype noise camera to be tested at several locations over the next seven months.

If the trials are successful, recommendations will be made to further develop the system across the UK.