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What are the controls on noise from Donington Park?

Noise from racetrack activity is controlled by the conditions contained in the current planning permissions (June 2013) for the racetrack.

Motorsport is, by its very nature, a noisy activity and indeed part of the enjoyment of the sport for many aficionados is the amount of noise generated. Therefore the concept behind the conditions are to allow the operators of the racetrack to maximise the business opportunities available to the racetrack whilst limiting the number of events per year which are likely to give rise to local annoyance as well as limiting the duration of noisy events and limiting the noise produced by each individual vehicle during an event.

In summary these conditions require that; 

For ‘Race days’ (generally held on weekends)

  • The track may be used for racing and pre-race testing for up to 60 days per year and only between the hours of 09:00 to 20:00.
  • On 20 of these 60 ‘race days’ an unlimited number of vehicles may use the track for racing. There is no limit on the noise levels generated by each of these vehicles. These days are called ‘Unsilenced race days’.
  • On a further 20 of these 60 ‘race days’ any vehicle which exceeds 118 decibels during a static test before the race is prohibited from using the track. There is no limit to the noise made by the vehicle when it is actually racing. These days are called ‘118dB days’.
  • On the remaining 20 of these 60 ‘race days’ any vehicle which exceeds 108 decibels during a static test before the race is prohibited from using the track. There is no limit to the noise made by the vehicle when it is actually racing. These days are called ‘108dB days’.
  • A ‘WRC rally’ is also permitted to be held on no more than 2 additional days each year in November/December.

On ‘Track / Test days’

  • Noisy test or track days - On a further 104 days per year the track may be used by no more than 6 ‘unsilenced’ vehicles at a time for ‘testing’. In addition, there is no limit to the number of vehicles below the 118dBA static test that can be used in these events. They are only permitted on weekdays between the hours of 09:00 to 17:00. They are not permitted to take place on a day before or after 2 consecutive Race Days.  No more than one Noisy track day can take place during any week before or after a weekend when there has been 3 consecutive Race Days;
  • Quiet test or track days - On any other day the vehicles using the track must comply with a drive-by noise limit of 98decibels. There is no limit on the number of vehicles using the track or the times of use. The noise from vehicles on the track is monitored by a trackside noise meter and where individual vehicles exceed the 98dBA limit they are given a warning and continually monitored and removed from the track if they fail to comply with the limits.

In theory, activity is permitted at the racetrack every day of the year. Because the conditions are designed to control the frequency of very noisy events and the duration of most other events, there are no specific noise levels which racetrack activities need to meet in local villages. 

The racetrack has published a Noise Management Plan which is communicated to all track users before they use the track and is actively enforced by MSV, the track owner. Whilst publishing and operating the track in accordance with the Noise Management Plan it is not a legal requirement, compliance with the Plan is a crucial part of the way by which MSV can demonstrate that it is complying with the planning permissions.

What can I do?

To an extent, forewarned is forearmed. If you are planning a particular event or activity that is very noise sensitive then you may want to consider what the racetrack has got booked in for that day. Have a look at the race calendar and the car track days and bike track days on the Donington Park website which describe the date, proposed event and the noise limit of the event. Our rule of thumb guide below gives some indication of the amount of noise generated from the track activities;

  • In the experience of Environmental Health Officers who have monitored noise in the local communities, the noisiest events are Unsilenced race days. These often generate noise in the region of 50-60 decibels in some of the local villages. During these events the noise of racing vehicles will be a dominant external noise, very clearly audible outdoors and possibly indoors as well with windows shut.
  • 118dBA race days, 108dBA race days with motorbikes and busy ’noisy’ test days all tend to generate noise in the region of 45-55dBA. This level of noise is clearly audible, but less likely to be audible indoors unless doors and windows are open. The noise from the ‘noisy’ track days tend to be described by residents as more of a continuous drone of engine noise, whereas race events consist of periods of more intensive race noise with quiet periods in between.
  • 108dBA race days with cars and ‘quiet’ track days are the quietest events. These tend to generate noise in the region of 40dBA which means that the noise is just about audible, but is easily drowned out by other background noises such as birdsong and traffic on nearby roads.

If you are bothered by noise on a particular day then you may want to consider making a formal complaint. It is understandable that most people who complain about noise want it stopping as soon as possible. However, nobody has the power to put an immediate stop to the noise and therefore it may be that many people are put off from complaining on the basis that they see no point as there are no short term effects. If complaints are made to either North West Leicestershire District Council and / or South Derbyshire District Council then the authorities will investigate if the conditions of use of the racetrack are being complied with. Complaints also enable the authorities to keep a record on the views in the local communities which will influence the work of the MSV Donington Park Consultative Committee (see below) and any future decisions such as planning applications relating to the track.

Complaints can be made to North West Leicestershire District Council or South Derbyshire District Council.

What are the Councils doing?

  1. North West Leicestershire District Council requires the Racetrack to provide them with a copy of the monthly programme of events to be submitted to them before the start of each month. Officers then check that the proposed use days do not exceed the limits imposed by the planning condition;
  2. Council Officers make pre-arranged visits to the track to audit the vehicle scrutineering, noise testing and marshalling during appropriate events;
  3. Council Officers make unannounced visits to the track to check on compliance (for example to check that no more than 6 unsilenced vehicles are using the track during Noise test / track days);
  4. Councils may install an unattended noise monitoring device to continuously monitor noise levels over a period of a number of days at the time of high profile events on the track;
  5. Council Officers take periodic short term attended noise measurements in the communities surrounding the track to test that noise models used to assess the spread of noise from the track are still accurate.
  6. Councils keep records of the dates when complaints are made to them and which villages in the surrounding communities the complaints are coming from. These help the Councils keep an eye on trends and are used to provide reports to the MSV Donington Park Consultative Committee

What is the MSV Donington Park Consultative Committee?

This is a meeting between Donington Park Racetrack Ltd, Councillors representing Leicestershire County Council, North West Leicestershire District Council, South Derbyshire District Council and all of the Parish Councils surrounding the racetrack.

The group started in 2011 and was initiated by the previous owners of the track and continued by MSV since they have taken over ownership. The purpose of the meeting is to provide the race track operators and representatives of the local community with the opportunity to meet and discuss issues associated with the track to find mutually acceptable solutions.  

Consultative Committee meetings of this type are commonplace for operations which have a significant local environmental impact. It is a formalised way in which there can be an honest and frank exchange of views between the Racetrack and the surrounding community. It is based on the reasoning that the impacts will never go away, but that by discussing and understanding all points of view there can be a progressive movement towards finding some common solutions.

The issue of noise is a standing item for discussion in the Consultative Committee Meeting. This includes a summary of the number of complaints that have been made, what the complaints were about and what has been done in response to them. By analysing trends and taking anecdotal evidence the Meeting seeks to explore possible solutions and to provide feedback on previously agreed actions. It does not provide a solution to all problems, but it does provide a means by which continual improvements can be considered, promoted and reviewed.

Experience in recent years suggests that the Meeting has been a great success. In 2013 the number of noise complaints made about track noise was over 300. In the 2018 season the number had fallen to below 10.    

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