How to tackle motorway noise levels in your home

Amanda Angus / 12 March 2018

Find out how to block road noise from the motorway with free noise insulation.



How to reduce motorway noise levels

Fed up with hearing traffic noise from your home? You’ll be pleased to hear about a new Highways England initiative that will see the owners of more than 3,000 homes across the country being offered free noise insulation against motorway rumblings by spring 2020.

A Cheshire couple who live less than 80 metres away from a busy motorway were the first in England to benefit from the new free double glazing scheme to reduce traffic noise levels.

Constant traffic noise

Mr and Mrs Glass were contacted by Highways England contractors because the stretch of the M56 near their home is used by over 124,000 vehicles every day.

In the two years they had lived there, they've had to put up with constant traffic noise from the motorway throughout the day and night. After the noise reduction scheme saw brand new double glazing installed in their home, the noise levels in their lounge and bedroom are comparable to those of a library.

They don’t need to worry about inadvertently welcoming traffic noise into their home when the weather turns warmer either, as ventilation units have also been fitted which allow air into the rooms without the windows needing to be opened.

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A huge reduction in road noise

Mr Glass said “We are delighted to have new double glazed windows and frames installed, free of charge, to help with reducing the noise levels. We’re really satisfied with the end result and have noticed a huge difference in day-to-day noise levels.”

Funding for the free noise insulation scheme is part of a £39 million special fund which Highways England is using to reduce traffic noise levels for people living close to motorways and major A roads; it also includes installing noise barriers and low-noise road surfaces.

The scheme will usually involve upgrading windows, bi-folding doors and patio doors in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and studies with double glazing as well as installing ventilation units. Highways England has identified locations where new glazing will be the best solution for reducing noise levels, and the owners of some 3,000 eligible properties will be contacted over the first few months of 2018 to be offered free windows and doors.

Committed to tackling motorway noise

Ian Holmes, Principal Noise Advisor at Highways England, said “Motorways are vital for connecting the country and supporting the economy but, at a local level, noise from the vehicles using them can affect people’s health and wellbeing.

“We’re committed to tackling traffic noise across the country and I’d urge anyone who receives a letter from us to get in touch; the scheme is entirely free, from the initial survey to the installation of the new windows and ventilation units.

“I’m delighted that Mr and Mrs Glass have noticed a significant reduction in the noise levels in their home, and look forward to bringing similar benefits to thousands of other residents.” More details on the free noise insulation initiative are available at gov.uk/guidance.

Other ways to reduce noise from the road

Double glazing is brilliant at reducing the road noise in your house, but what if you’d like to get out to enjoy the garden?

Plant new trees

If you have room in your garden, planting a dense row of trees on your side of the fence will help to dull the noise of cars racing by – and would help in some small way to improve the quality of the air, as well as giving you something beautiful to look at. Pop to your local garden centre for advice on what would grow well in your soil, and in the space you have available, or shop online.

Looking for everything you need to improve your garden? Find what you're after, from hanging baskets and garden lighting to bird feeders and Wellington boots, on the Saga Garden Centre

Consider a trellis

Fasten tall posts to your fence and attach a trellis, or simply string garden wire between them, then train a climbing plant like honeysuckle or jasmine across the top.

As an additional bonus the sweet smell may also help neutralise the odour of any fumes from the nearby cars.

Review the acoustics

If you've got a bit more cash to spare in order to make your garden a haven of peace and tranquility, perhaps invest in some acoustic fencing. This thick, solid fence works as a sound barrier, reflecting the noise back from whence it came.  

Mask the sounds

If you like the soft sound of windchimes, perhaps pop a few up to sing in the breeze – or if you’d prefer something more organic, you might like to plant a row of clump-forming bamboo.

Plant them within a physical barrier to stop them spreading through your garden and to keep them concentrated in one place. They grow quickly, so you’ll soon have a lovely row of canes with leaves that rustle in the breeze.

Alternatively, look into adding a water feature and enjoy the noise of a babbling brook instead of echoing engines.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.