Noise Monitoring of Cambridge Folk Festival

Ade Kujore made this Freedom of Information request to Cambridge City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Cambridge City Council,
Please could you send me a copy of the noise monitoring report (2015), submitted by the noise monitoring contractor, to the organisers of the Cambridge Folk Festival of 2015.

Yours faithfully,
Ade Kujore

FOI, Cambridge City Council

Dear Mr Kujore

Thank you for your request of 6 June

In accordance with the Act you should receive a response within 20 working
days, by 4 July.

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future

Yours sincerely
Eleanor Dent
Cambridge City Council

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Dear FOI,
I am still awaiting your response. Please respond soon.

Yours sincerely,

Ade Kujore

Dear Cambridge City Council,

I am still awaiting your response. Please respond soon.

Yours faithfully,

Ade Kujore

Dear FOI,

On 06 June 2016, I made a Freedom of Information request of Cambridge City Council.

I requested a copy of the 2015 noise monitoring report, of the Cambridge Folk Festival. To date, in contravention to the law, my request has not been granted. Is this an oversight, or does the report contain information which the Folk Festival organisers would prefer to hide.

Again, I am requesting this information. Matters are becoming urgent and serious.
Yours sincerely,

Ade Kujore

FOI, Cambridge City Council

Dear Mr Kujore

Apologies for the lack of a response.

As you may be aware, the Folk Festival is now delivered by Cambridge Live
who are a trust, and no longer part of Cambridge City Council. As such
they are not a public body for the purposes of FOI. Since your request I
have been trying to ascertain whether the information you requested is
held by the trust or Cambridge City Council. I am still looking into this
and hope to have a response for you by the end of the week.



Eleanor Dent, Information and Data Policy Officer, Cambridge City Council|
[email address]| 01223 457062 | |

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FOI, Cambridge City Council

Dear Ade

Apologies for the further delay.

We have found a copy of the report you have requested. Due to protections
on the document we are unable to make necessary redactions to the document
(personal information of third parties) in order to be able to release it.
We have asked the reports authors to make these redactions and supply them
to us. We will pass this onto you as soon as we have it.


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FOI, Cambridge City Council

This message has been hidden. Removed from public view due to accidental release of personal information of those who complained to the council about the noise. Please contact us if you have any questions. If you are the requester, then you may sign in to view the message.

Thank you for this Eleanor.

The html version has not been redacted,

Please could you remove it quickly.

Kind regards,


A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:

Yours faithfully,

Ade Kujore

FOI, Cambridge City Council


I do not have permission to remove the response. I have reported this to
the site administrators as a matter of urgency and asked them to remove
the html version.


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Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

The council accidentally released a copy of the report including personal information of those who had made complaints about the noise.

Below is a redacted version of the text of the report provided in the response with this personal information removed:

Sound Control Compliance Report
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge
Prepared by: Richard Vivian BEng(Hons) MIET MIOA MAES MIOL
Principal Acoustic Consultant, Big Sky Acoustics Ltd
On behalf of Cambridge Live
Document Ref: 15090631
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Big Sky Acoustics document control sheet
Project title:
Sound Control Compliance Report
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2014
Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge
Technical report number:
Submitted to:
Eddie Barcan
Festival Manager
Cambridge Folk Festival
3 Parson’s Court
Wheeler Street
Submitted by:
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd
46 Frenze Road
IP22 4PA
Tel: 020 7617 7069
Email: [email address]
Prepared by:
Richard Vivian BEng(Hons) MIET MIOA MAES MIOL
Principal Acoustic Consultant
Checked by:
Senga Bennett MSc BSc
Consultant Engineer
Document status and approval schedule
Approved for issue
This report was completed by Big Sky Acoustics Ltd on the basis of a defined programme of work and terms and conditions agreed with the Client. The report has
been prepared with all reasonable skill, care and diligence within the terms of the contract with the Client and taking into account the project objectives, the agreed
scope of works, prevailing site conditions and the degree of manpower and resources allocated to the project.
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd accepts no responsibility whatsoever, following the issue of the report, for any matters arising outside the agreed scope of the works.
This report is issued in confidence to the Client and Big Sky Acoustics Ltd has no responsibility of whatsoever nature to third parties to whom this report or any part
thereof is made known. Any such party relies upon the report at their own risk.
Unless specifically assigned or transferred within the terms of the agreement, Big Sky Acoustics Ltd retains all copyright and other intellectual property rights, on and
over the report and its contents.
© Big Sky Acoustics Ltd, 2015
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 2 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
1.0 Introduction.................................................................................................................................4
2.0 Local Authority sound control requirements.......................................................................... 4
3.0 Comment regarding boundary noise level criteria................................................................ 4
4.0 Controlling stage levels on site................................................................................................ 6
5.0 Monitoring levels at the perimeter...........................................................................................7
6.0 Responding to noise complaints.............................................................................................. 7
7.0 Conclusion....................................................................................................................................8
Appendix A - Acoustic terminology.................................................................................................9
Appendix B – Instrumentation...................................................................................................... 10
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 3 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
1.0 Introduction
The purpose of this document is to report on the control of sound levels at Cherry
Hinton Hall during the 2015 Cambridge Folk Festival and provide information about
public complaints regarding noise from the festival and subsequent follow-up
A glossary of acoustical terms used in this report is provided in Appendix A.
A list of instrumentation used during the event is shown in Appendix B.
2.0 Local Authority sound control requirements
Premises licence number PRECAM 000490, issued by Cambridge City Council,
permits certain licensable activities in the Cherry Hinton Hall Grounds. The licence
was granted on the 8th May 2006 under the Licensing Act 2003.
Licence conditions relating to boundary noise levels are under the heading of the
prevention of public nuisance and state:
Sound levels at the boundaries of the site shall not exceed 55dBLAeq (15
minutes), 60dBLAMax during performances, measured at the following locations:
a) The corner of the site with St Bede’s Gardens
b) The boundary of the site with 12 Walpole Road
c) The boundary of the site with 43 Forest Road.
The boundary monitoring positions were confirmed with Alexander Nix (Licensing
Enforcement Officer) on Thursday 30 July 2015 during a site inspection.
Noise monitoring was carried out from Thursday evening until Sunday night at all
three positions and at other locations across the site and in the surrounding area.
3.0 Comment regarding boundary noise level criteria
Although the licence conditions require 15-minute measurements much of the data
gathered during the festival was over shorter duration measurement periods in
order to rapidly assess either:
an indication of compliance when short duration levels are comfortably below
the boundary noise level;
low confidence measurement conditions due to high wind speeds and other
(non-music) noise sources;
the possibility of a risk of an exceedence due to music noise and therefore a
need for some immediate pro-active control of the noise source based on a
shorter measurement period.
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 4 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Typical shorter duration measurement periods were 5-minutes long and will slightly
over estimate levels as music is usually continuous for the majority of the
measurement duration (i.e. a single song or no stage changeover time). During
the measurement procedure the LAeq is displayed continuously on the meter: Short
duration measurements are only stopped once the LAeq value has stabilised.
I have four observations regarding the boundary noise criteria:
The boundary noise level of 55dBA is relatively low by event standards. The
guidance from the ‘Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at
Concerts’ (The Noise Council, 1995), also known as “The Pop Code”,
proposes a level not exceeding 65dBA at the façade of any noise sensitive
premises between the hours of 09:00 and 23:00, ie 10dB louder than the
limit level at the boundary positions of Cherry Hinton Hall.
The 60dBLAmax criterion is unusual. I believe I understand the intention
behind this condition but the nomenclature used actually indicates a different
type of measurement to what I suggest the intended purpose of the limit
was: The LAmax value is a single (short duration) maximum level during the
entire measurement duration. It is assumed to be fast time-weighted (if time
weighting is unspecified) and therefore of only 125mS duration. This
maximum level would easily exceed 60dB due to someone coughing,
measurement position talking. Light aircraft regularly exceed this level.
Therefore most 15-minute environmental noise measurements taken in the
grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall, even without the festival in operation, would
return a LAmax figure in excess of 60dB. However my interpretation of this
condition is that for short durations (such as towards the end of the set of a
major act) then average levels measured as an LAeq can creep up to no
greater than 60dBA as long as, on the whole, they stay around 55dBA.
The boundary noise criterion only specifies an A-weighted level. Therefore
any measurement does not include bass frequencies which are the most
likely cause of complaints from music events. A simple adherence to the
licence conditions, without additional consideration of bass frequencies,
could result in a situation where there is legal compliance with the licence
yet substantial complaints from irritated residents due to excessive bass. In
order to address this problem subjective observation is made regarding bass
levels and corrective action is taken where it was felt that bass alone could
give rise to complaints regardless of compliance with the A-weighted limit.
simultaneously with the A-weighted measurements for our analysis.
The choice of the noise monitoring positions A and B under a canopy of trees
in full leaf is problematic as even at relatively low wind speeds noise of the
wind on the leaves alone (in the absence of any music) can exceed 55dBA
rendering all noise measurement entirely dependent on expert interpretation.
Noise monitoring position C is of less relevance in controlling music levels
from the stages and can be affected by general noise on the camp-site, but
remains quieter than the other positions due to the separation distance to
stages. However a new stage, The Den, has had some impact on this
position in resent years and so it is felt worthwhile to maintain regular
monitoring visits to position C.
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 5 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Throughout my preparation for the festival, and during the monitoring at the event,
I have considered that it is my duty to operate within the spirit of the licence
conditions and act in compliance with the intent of these conditions to the best of
my professional ability in order to uphold the licensing condition of the prevention
of public nuisance.
4.0 Controlling stage levels on site
Real-time monitoring was carried out throughout the festival. This means
perimeter monitoring at the predetermined monitoring positions and on-site
monitoring of levels at the stages. The data was correlated throughout the festival
and source levels adjusted as required. This allowed for the changes in outdoor
sound propagation caused by local meteorological effects.
Real-time information was relayed via a point-to-multipoint wi-fi link to the sound
control HQ on site from the three measurement positions. On day two the remote
logging equipment at measurement position B was relocated to the main stage
arena to provide more data to assist with the correlation of stage and boundary
Sound levels on site were initially set based on experience of previous years events
and then adjusted following assessment from perimeter positions during the
A-weighted levels were generally used as a level indicator at FOH positions though
each stage had different low frequency characteristics resulting in specific tailoring
of system equalisation on each sound system.
It is our philosophy to analyse each individual sound system in turn and consider
the frequency content, location, orientation and propagation patterns rather than
set a blanket dBA level for all stages. In this way maximum operating levels can be
tailored to specific sound system configurations and conditions across the site.
The differing low frequency profile, location of the stages, and reference to the
programme for identification of individual bands assists in clearly differentiating
between each stage at the perimeter.
Each stage was visited in turn on a continuous cycle reviewing changing conditions
and correlating off-site measurement data.
Prediction of target night-time operating levels was carried out in the early evening
each night and gradually implemented in the hour leading up to 23:00.
Stage curfew times were upheld by stage managers on the main stages. Where a
short overrun occurred from published time the sound control team quickly
responded by visiting the stage and ensuring that the stage was shut before the
terminal time on the premises licence.
Co-operation from sound system technicians and engineers at this event is
extremely positive. All the sound engineering crew are very professional and a
pleasure to work with. It is the fostering of good relationships between the sound
control team and the sound system technical crews that promotes the fast and
effective adjustment and control of all the stages at this festival
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 6 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
In addition to controlling levels on stages periodic checks were made of trader
sound systems and these were turned down so as to be unnoticeable, or switched
5.0 Monitoring levels at the perimeter
Perimeter noise levels were continuously reported via the remote logging system.
Physical visits to the boundary monitoring positions where carried out throughout
the festival.
At all times daytime music noise levels were below the pop code guidelines.
6.0 Responding to noise complaints
Any complainants calling the festival site were spoken to courteously and details
recorded. Complaint locations were visited as soon as practicable. At all locations
visited since 2010 noise the festival has been found to be in compliance with Pop
Code guidance.
Because of a consistent and pro-active monitoring and control policy the total
number of complaints each year is small for the scale and type of event and
investigations show that although some noise is noticeable at some residential
locations it was adequately controlled during the day, and significantly limited at
night so that people would not be affected when resting or sleeping within their
Complaint details and actions
[name removed], [personal information removed] St Bede’s Crescent called HQ at the following times:
Thursday 1st, 19:55
Friday 1st, 10:20
Saturday 2nd, 11:45
Saturday 2nd, 12:08
Saturday 2nd, 12:30
Saturday 2nd, 13:05
Saturday 2nd, 22:43
On Sunday I suggested to [name removed] that rather than call every time she felt levels
were excessive she could keep notes of the times she thought noise was too much
and then phone them all in later in the day in one go. She did call and reported
excessive noise at 13:44, 15:58, 16:14, 16:21, 16:27, 16:34 and 16:41.
[name removed]’s final complaint was on Sunday 2nd at 22:35.
[name removed] takes up a fair amount of time. Her address is very close to monitoring
position A but I still make a point of leaving the festival site and carrying out
additional monitoring from outside her house. I also spoke to her on the telephone
and assured her that noise from the festival would not cause structural damage to
her property.
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 7 of 10

Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Other complaints:
One complaint is logged as being read on Twitter on Thursday night at 21:53 but
no location given and no follow up possible.
An observation from a local resident (rather than a complaint to be investigated)
was phoned in and this was that bass levels in Malvern Road were louder than in
previous years. We visited the road on a couple of occasions and did note an
increase in 80Hz bass propagation off the back of the main stage. Corrective
steering of the bass array on the main stage was carried out and a different design
of bass array is planned for 2016.
An anonymous complaint was made from Heatherfield - the council flats at the
end of Walpole Road. The caller mentioned music but also buses and bicycles. An
anonymous complaint from this location in previous years included a threat of
violence. A visit was made and music noise levels at this location were low. There
is undeniably noise from buses and there are a number of cyclists that cycle to the
festival and leave bikes in this area.
After the event one complaint was submitted by email from [personal information removed]own,
[personal information removed], Cambridge, [personal information removed]. I suggest this is a duplicate of the complaint
about Coldham’s Common made directly to the council noise team and actioned by
Alex Nix who called it through to HQ at the time.
Alex Nix also records two other complaints made directly to the Council. One on
Friday night from Mr & Mrs [personal information removed] of St Thomas’ Square which is not far from the
site. The complaint also mentioned denial of access, and litter. The other complaint
was from a Ms [personal information removed] in Ainsworth Street about loud music and voices until 11pm
on Sunday night. Ainsworth Street is 2.5km from the site and in a dense
residential area. Because the complaint was not made during the event I was not
able to investigate.
7.0 Conclusion
Pro-active and continuous management of sound levels on site combined with
regular off-site monitoring and responsive visits to complainants ensured that
Cambridge Folk Festival 2015 was managed in compliance with the guidance of
the ‘Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts’, The Noise
Council, 1995, also known as “The Pop Code”.
Boundary noise levels were maintained in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003
and additional (voluntary) controls of low frequency noise further minimised the
noise impact to local residents.
Richard Vivian BEng(Hons) MIET MIOA MAES MIOL
Principal Acoustic Consultant, Big Sky Acoustics Ltd
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 8 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Appendix A - Acoustic terminology
Sound Pressure Level and the decibel (dB)
A sound wave is a small fluctuation of atmospheric pressure. The human ear responds to these variations in
pressure, producing the sensation of hearing. The ear can detect a very wide range of pressure variations. In order
to cope with this wide range of pressure variations, a logarithmic scale is used to convert the values into
manageable numbers. Although it might seem unusual to use a logarithmic scale to measure a physical
phenomenon, it has been found that human hearing also responds to sound in an approximately logarithmic fashion.
The dB (decibel) is the logarithmic unit used to describe sound (or noise) levels. The usual range of sound pressure
levels is from 0 dB (threshold of hearing) to 140 dB (threshold of pain).
Frequency and Hertz (Hz)
As well as the loudness of a sound, the frequency content of a sound is also very important. Frequency is a measure
of the rate of fluctuation of a sound wave. The unit used is cycles per second, or hertz (Hz). Sometimes large
frequency values are written as kilohertz (kHz), where 1 kHz = 1000 Hz. Young people with normal hearing can hear
frequencies in the range 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. However, the upper frequency limit gradually reduces as a person gets
The ear does not respond equally to sound at all frequencies. It is less sensitive to sound at low and very high
frequencies, compared with the frequencies in between. Therefore, when measuring a sound made up of different
frequencies, it is often useful to 'weight' each frequency appropriately, so that the measurement correlates better
with what a person would actually hear. This is usually achieved by using an electronic filter called the 'A' weighting,
which is built into sound level meters. Noise levels measured using the 'A' weighting are denoted dBA. A change of
3dBA is the minimum perceptible under normal everyday conditions, and a change of 10dBA corresponds roughly to
doubling or halving the loudness of sound.
The C-weighting curve has a broader spectrum than the A-weighting curve and includes low frequencies (bass) so it
i can be a more useful indicator of changes to bass levels in amplified music systems.
Noise Indices
When a noise level is constant and does not fluctuate over time, it can be described adequately by measuring the dB
level. However, when the noise level varies with time, the measured dB level will vary as well. In this case it is
therefore not possible to represent the noise level with a simple dB value. In order to describe noise where the level
is continuously varying, a number of other indices are used. The indices used in this report are described below.
The equivalent continuous sound pressure level which is normally used to measure intermittent noise. It is
defined as the equivalent steady noise level that would contain the same acoustic energy as the varying
noise. Because the averaging process used is logarithmic the Leq is dominated by the higher noise levels
The A-weighted equivalent continuous sound pressure level. This is increasingly being used as the preferred
parameter for all forms of environmental noise.
The C-weighted equivalent continuous sound pressure level includes low frequencies and is used for
assessment of amplified music systems.
is the maximum A-weighted sound pressure level during the monitoring period. If fast-weighted it is
averaged over 125 ms , and if slow-weighted it is averaged over 1 second. Fast weighted measurements are
therefore higher for typical time-varying sources than slow-weighted measurements.
is the A-weighted sound pressure level exceeded for 90% of the time period. The LA90 is used as a measure
of background noise.
Example noise levels:
Indicative noise level dBA
Threshold of pain
Chainsaw at 1m
Live music concert
Symphony orchestra, 3m
HGV travelling at 20mph
Vacuum cleaner
Car travelling at 30mph
Ordinary conversation
Rural ambient
Quiet bedroom
Watch ticking
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.
Page 9 of 10
Cambridge Folk Festival; 30 July - 2 August 2015
Appendix B – Instrumentation
All measurements were carried out using one of the following sets of instrumentation:
Kit 1: Cirrus type CR:171B integrating-averaging sound level meter with real-time 1:1 &
1:3 Octave band filters and audio recording conforming to the following standards: IEC
61672-1:2002 Class 1, IEC 60651:2001 Type 1 I, IEC 60804:2000 Type 1, IEC
61252:1993 Personal Sound Exposure Meters, ANSI S1.4-1983 (R2006), ANSI S1.43-1997
(R2007), ANSI S1.25:1991. 1:1 & 1:3 Octave Band Filters to IEC 61260 & ANSI S1.11-
Kit 2: Svan type 971 integrating-averaging sound level meter with real-time 1:1 & 1:3
Octave band filters conforming to the following standards: IEC 61672-1:2002 Class 1. 1:1
& 1:3 Octave Band Filters to IEC 61260.
Perimeter monitoring kits x3: NTi Audio XL2 Acoustic and Audio Analyser conforming to
the following standards: IEC 61672, IEC 60651, IEC 60804; China: GB/T 3785:2010, GB/T
3241, GB 3096-2008, GB 50526, GB-T_4959-1995; Germany: DIN 15905-5, DIN 45645-2,
optional: DIN 45645-1; Japan: JIS C1509-1:2005, JIS C 1513 class 1, JIS C 1514 class 0;
Switzerland: SLV; US: ANSI S1.4, ANSI S1.43, ANSI S1.11-2004 class 1.
The calibration of the measuring equipment was checked prior to and immediately
following the tests and no signal variation occurred. Calibration of equipment is traceable
to national standards. The following instrumentation was used during the survey:
Kit 1:
Cirrus sound level meter
type CR:171B
Cirrus pre-polarized microphone
type MK:224
Cirrus microphone pre-amplifier
type MV:200E
Cirrus class 1 acoustic calibrator
type CR:515
Kit 2:
Svan sound level meter
type 971
ACO pre-polarized free-field microphone
type 7052E
Svan microphone pre-amplifier
type SV18
Logging kit at boundary monitoring positions (3 systems):
NTi Audio Acoustic and Audio Analyser
type XL2
Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M5
High capacity SLA battery pack
Additionally some Type 2, and some non-type approved, sound level meters were used by
sound engineers themselves on the stages for their own monitoring purposes. All of this
instrumentation was calibrated against a known and traceable Type 1 source from our
instrumentation stock.
Big Sky Acoustics Ltd.


The text of the response email stated:

Dear Ms Kujore

Thank you for your correspondence of 6 June, in which you requested a copy
of a noise monitoring report carried out on behalf of Cambridge Folk
Festival in 2015. Since the time of this report and your request operation
of the Cambridge Folk Festival has passed from Cambridge City Council to
Cambridge Live, however searches of our data found that the council still
held a copy of the report as a the licensing body for this event.

As the information requested meets the criteria of Environmental
Information, it has been considered under the Environmental Information
Regulations (EIR).

I can confirm that Cambridge City Council holds this information, and a
redacted copy of this report is attached.

The information that has been withheld constitutes personal information as
defined in Section 1(1) Data Protection Act. In considering the exception
for personal data under regulation 13 of EIR, we need to consider whether
disclosure of personal information would contravene any of the data
protection principles.

The first data protection principle states “Personal Data shall be
processed fairly and lawfully and in particular shall not be processed
unless at least one of the conditions in schedule 2 is met”. The
information held by Cambridge City Council is held for the purposes of
monitoring noise output from the event in line with the conditions of the
event licence. The individuals mentioned in this report would not have an
expectation that this information would be publically disclosed, and
therefore any disclosure would be unfair and in breach of the first data
protection principle.

The identities of these individuals are therefore exempt from disclosure
under regulation 13 of the Environmental Information Regulations. This is
no requirement to consider the public interest.

If you are not happy with the way in which your request has been dealt
with please contact Joel Carre, Head of Environmental Services within 40
days of the date of this letter. You may also contact the Information
Commissioner if you are still not happy with the way your request has been
dealt with. The Information Commissioner’s address is:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely
Eleanor Dent


Richard Taylor - volunteer

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