The John Connell Awards 2023 took place at the Palace of Westminster on the evening of 25th October 2023, kindly hosted by Sir Peter Bottomley, Member of Parliament for Worthing West. The awards were presented by Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The John Connell Awards are open to government, local government, industry, organisations and individuals throughout the UK and Europe. The awards recognise innovative services, campaigns, products and programmes that are shining examples of community co-operation, education and creative solutions to solve noise pollution problems and improve soundscapes. For the 2023 Awards, projects which had been carried out during the past 48 months were eligible. Planning and works may had commenced prior to this period, and the positive results may have been ongoing.

John Connell Awards 2023 was kindly sponsored by:

Local Authority Environmental Health Practitioners enforce noise law and are at the front line dealing with the complex challenges of neighbourhood noise. This award recognises services and projects that are shining examples of co-operation, and creative solutions to solve noise problems within the community.

Winner: Bristol City Council, Tranquil City and Go Jauntly

Aiming to encourage more regular walking, wellbeing and a reduction of stress in its local population, this innovative City Council teamed up with an environmental data company and a walking App to produce a bespoke ‘Green Routes’ App to support healthier and more sustainable walking journeys. Data results from the surveyed participants showed that greener alternatives could increase the likelihood of choosing walking, over other travel modes, by 36%. If scaled to the entire City’s population, it could increase time spent in nature by a huge 2.9 million hours.

Highly Commended: Westminster City Council and City of London

In the heart of London, noisy utilities maintenance and highways infrastructure in densely populated areas, often cause extreme annoyance and sleep disturbance to nearby residents. To solve this complex problem, it required innovative thinking and significant cooperation across local authorities, the street works industry, environmental consultants and Transport for London. A project including streamlined assessments, noise prediction tools, quiet equipment recommendation and good practice guidance is in development. With surrounding local authorities supporting this methodology, the template can be adopted by authorities right across the UK.

This award, kindly sponsored by RHE Global, is in recognition of the most successful use of the Noise App technology, an effective tool which facilitates the reporting and assessment of community noise complaints to assist local authorities and housing associations with their noise investigations.

Winner: ASB Help

This year’s winner worked with a local authority and housing provider who were experiencing an extremely challenging noise case. The Noise App was used in the case; however, the reporters of the noise requested an ASB Case Review/Community Trigger in line with the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014. A member of this team chaired the ASB Case Review/Community Trigger meeting, and some recommendations were made to the investigation team. A civil injunction was subsequently obtained against the tenant and noise app evidence was key to the case. This company played a significant role in getting the case back on track addressing the concerns of the victims.

Highly Commended: Chris Hurst of Three Spires Acoustics

This private acoustics investigator used Noise App evidence in several private noise dispute investigations including neighbourhood, sports pitches, scrap yard and entertainment venues. He found that the app has made gathering trend-over-time evidence by clients significantly easier as it provides more compelling and simpler to understand information. His investigations have also highlighted how the Noise App evidence can be successfully used in court.

The IOA Secondary Schools’ Competition is now an annual event which encourages young people to explore the wonderful world of acoustics. This year’s competition focussed on the connection between acoustics and ecology.

Winner: Clementine Bristow from Stamford Endowed Schools 

The effects of sound on wildlife are often overlooked, therefore this year’s Secondary Schools’ Competition was especially exciting as we asked children to explore the connection between acoustics and ecology, specifically birds. Children were asked to identify three acoustically different areas, describe the soundscape of each area and use the BirdNET app to identify birds that are present in each area. Each entry was well written, precise and logical. Clementine Bristow described the different soundscapes well and her results were clearly presented; she clearly enjoyed the knowledge gathering and got a lot out of the exercise.

This award, kindly sponsored by Anderson Acoustics, recognises the advancement of soundscape principles in line with the ISO soundscape standards and their practical ‘real world’ applications.

Winner: Welsh Government

Soundscape has not featured in UK legislation, and linkages between laws on noise and air quality have been poor. This devolved Government boldly initiated widening the scope of the proposed Clean Air Act to include airborne noise and soundscape – for the protection of present and future generations. As introduced, the Bill requires their Ministers to produce a national soundscapes strategy with its review cycle aligned with the national air quality strategy and the electoral cycle. Local and relevant public authorities will now have to have regard to the national soundscapes strategy when exercising public functions affecting local and national soundscapes. The Bill process has resulted in greater understanding of soundscape within the Government, puts soundscape on a statutory footing for the first time in the UK and globally, and sets an expectation for evidence-based, transparent and inclusive development of future applied soundscape practices.

Highly Commended: Università di Trento, Italy and University College London

Pioneering ISO soundscape standards in national parks, this project brought together global soundscape researchers with musicians, photographers and video makers to document public engagement in critical listening sound walks in the Cairngorms in Scotland and the Italian Dolomites, measuring people’s acoustic perception in-situ. This is essential to enable the management and preservation of treasured environments such as regional and national parks. A documentary of this project will be shown at the 2024 Trento Film Festival.

This award, kindly sponsored by the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) and ANV Measurement Systems, recognises self-motivated individuals who have made impressive progress or an outstanding contribution within the first five years of their career within acoustics.

Winner: Alec Korchev from Clarke Saunders Acoustics

This rising star moved from Canada to London to pursue an acoustics career with an MSc at London South Bank University before starting work at this consultancy. Whilst there they have been exposed to a number of acoustics-related disciplines leading them to develop a specialisation in wind-induced creaking noise in tall buildings for which they are currently undertaking a PhD. This star stood out because of the strong evidence of network engagement, particularly their volunteering to Chair the Institute of Acoustics Student Representative Sub-committee and the Association of Noise Consultants Future Acousticians Committee, which for both they have shown commitment in promoting acoustics to students, the most recent example of which is their current work in developing a student mentoring programme.

Highly Commended: Rebecca Romeo Pitone from Apex Acoustics

This rising star had followed an interest in sound whilst studying for their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before joining this consultancy as an acoustic testing engineer. As part of that role, they were given an additional remit covering soundscapes and for this the judges agreed they have made an outstanding contribution to both developing the consultancy’s soundscape practice and the wider industry that are well beyond what is expected of a recent graduate. She stood out from other entries through their work in writing and presenting papers at various events, including the Institute of Acoustics Northeast Branch Meeting Soundwalk in 2022 and is the lead author for a “Decolonising museum soundscapes” paper to be published soon along with presentations to be given at upcoming events.

This award, kindly sponsored by Brigade Electronics, salutes significant advances in industry best practice to minimise noise from operations and logistics by developing proven noise reduction initiatives.

Winner: Philip Dunbavin Acoustics

This multi award-winning project tackled intense tonal wind-induced noise generated by a huge amount of security mesh in a recently built large scale multi-storey car park – causing complaints from up to 1 km away. A complex, innovative aero-acoustic scope and testing protocol was developed to assess the impact of multi-directional wind characteristics and acoustic spectral and tonal sounds.

Bespoke mitigation testing high sensitivity to angle orientation relative to the wind and wind velocity was developed and post completion testing showed that no tones were generated from the treated mesh, resulting in the elimination of complaints from local sensitive receivers.

Highly Commended: Transport for London and Anderson Acoustics & Partners

To make it easier for pedestrians and other road users to identify that the adjacent vehicle is a bus and whether it is moving or stationary, this transport authority worked with other partners to develop a responsive Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System so that the playback level for a newly created urban bus sound could be adjusted based on the vehicle’s location. This unique bus sound has been UN approved may be used by other bus operators.

Highly Commended: SV Acoustics and South Western Railway

This acoustic partnership and one of the UK’s largest Train Operating Companies (TOCs) have worked for over 4 years on a range of innovative noise strategy & management initiatives. Key aspects include: pro-active noise assessment of key sites & business activities; the first UK TOC DfT approved Noise Management Strategy; topic-specific noise guidance notes; noise training across the business; a bespoke “noiseplanner” – to capture and analyse noise data; and customised managerial, physical and behavioural noise management plans, resulting in significant real world noise and complaint reduction.

Innovation is the key to solving noise pollution for the benefit of all. This award, kindly sponsored by the Institute of Acoustics, recognises original thinking, products and solutions when faced with particularly challenging acoustic issues.

Winner: Defra Noise and Statutory Nuisance Team & Partners

Good policy has the potential to improve the lives of all citizens free from inequality and bias. To provide a strong evidence-base, a new noise model was developed demonstrating innovation, robust technological advancement and a sustained commitment to long-term noise exposure reduction. It transforms the way that government can understand the scale of impact from road and rail noise and provides enhanced capability for responsible authorities. It more accurately depicts the soundscape of the nation by mapping every public road and railway to 100% 10m resolution – this is thought to be the first time an entire country has been mapped to this level of detail in the world. It enables health and biodiversity impacts to be assessed; the potential for soundscape and tranquil areas evaluations and much more. The groundbreaking model has been adopted across all UK governments – and it is modular, meaning it is resilient and future-proofed allowing the benefits to be reaped for many years to come in a sustainable and consistent manner.

Highly Commended: Apex Acoustics

The problem of evaluating future acoustic performance in use, remains largely unaddressed and difficult to solve. Taking a human-centred approach, this project captures and reproduces the soundscape of a place or building in use, by combining point of view video with binaural audio. This means that what you see and hear is exactly what the person standing at that point in the building or place saw and heard. This multi-media approach offers designers the opportunity to explore a reference library of buildings to better set design criteria for new buildings.

Highly Commended: Atkins Jacobs Joint Venture

Excessively noisy cars and motorcycles that have been modified or are driven in a way that creates additional noise are a public health burden blighting the lives of millions across the UK. This novel solution was developed working with a multidisciplinary project team of acousticians and specialist partners, using a holistic evidence-based approach to recommend enforcement noise levels. A range of parameters not used before were considered, including enforcement routes, fairness, acoustic characterisation, subjective perspectives and tolerances.

This award, kindly sponsored by Rolltek International, recognises advances in low noise technology in the logistics industry to facilitate quieter delivery and services especially in urban areas.

Winner: Tarmac, Renault Trucks and TVS Interfleet

The concrete mixer is a significant source of noise pollution in urban areas and a totemic vehicle to re-design. This company set up a bold Innovation Challenge to develop solutions to reduce the noise and produce zero CO2 tailpipe emissions and the consortium met the engineering challenge which resulted in the UK’s first e-mixer. It reduces five sixths of the driveline noise by up to 8dBA and lowers drum and mixing noise. The elimination of tailpipe emissions also means that concrete pouring can now take place indoors, reducing noise even further and delivering additional benefits to those working on, or living/working near to construction sites.

Highly Commended: HIAB

This manufacturer’s third generation lorry-mounted quiet crane features a fully integrated hydraulic tank, battery-pack and motor/pump built into the crane’s mounting base. This integrated design reduces structural noise and vibration making crane movements 30% quieter. Compared to engine-powered models it’s virtually silent in operation. It also provides weight-savings of up to 300kg thereby giving payload back to the operator – making it a major tool for fighting noise pollution in towns and cities, allowing truck operators to use lorry-mounted cranes without disturbing residents, even at night.

Celebrating manufacturers who maximise the use of their Quiet Mark accreditation to promote the value of low-noise technology for consumer benefit. Encouraging manufacturers to sell quieter products is what the premise of Quiet Mark is all about – reducing stress in the home, the workplace and in public spaces.

Winner: BSH Home Appliances

A leader in its industry sector, BSH Home Appliances has thoroughly embraced Quiet Mark certification messaging and associated values. By including the whole group of its household brands, BSH’s impressive communications across its national channels, retail partners and media campaign throughout the year is an example to commerce, emphasising the unique health and wellbeing benefits that low-noise technology brings to its consumers in their everyday lives.

The Quiet Mark Built Environment Award recognises significant advances in acoustic excellence within the built environment.

Winner: NBS

This company is the first build sector specifying platform in the world to highlight noise reduction as a priority factor within the built environment, signposting the wellbeing and liveability benefits of Quiet Mark certified products to architects, designers and developers everywhere. Encouraging “Acoustics first” at the outset of every project to benefit lives for generations to come.

For more information about the John Connell Awards:

John Connell Award Winners 2023


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