Parks and playing fields across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan could be among Wales’ first “quiet areas”.
The proposals under environmental laws would see the locations legally spared any future developments to maintain their distinctive sounds and habitats.
Eleven possible locations have been submitted by Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan councils, and a 12-week consultation period run by the Welsh Government is now under way.
The Environmental Noise Directive requires the Government to take action to preserve environmental noise quality where it is deemed to be good.
The directive also requires the Government to identify so-called quiet areas within large urban zones and protect them from increased “environmental noise” – defined as “unwanted or harmful” noise from transport and industry.
Cardiff Council has nominated 42-hectare Heath Park, adjacent to the University Hospital of Wales, to be covered by the proposals. It has an 18-hole pitch and putt golf course, a model railway and woodland, which is home to tawny owls, sparrowhawks and bats.
Grade II-listed Thompson’s Park in Canton is also nominated, along with Parc Caedelyn in Rhiwbina.
Roath Park is also named because it contains Sites of Nature Conservation Interest. The lake’s bird population includes wildfowl, geese and mute swans, while coot and mallard breed there.
Belle Vue Park, Penarth Head Lane, Victoria Playing Fields, Golden Gates and Alexandra Park in Penarth were nominated by Vale of Glamorgan council.
Peter Cox, chairman of Cardiff Civic Society, said he was surprised additional protection was needed and believed traffic calming measures near the sites would be a better approach.
“I know Roath Park and Thompson’s Park well and I can’t imagine in what circumstances in those localities someone would apply for planning consent that would need to invoke additional measures related to noise.
“Both are residential areas – it’s highly unlikely someone would want to build an armaments factory or a place to build aeroplane wings.”
Cardiff Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Raoul Bhambral welcomed the plans.
He said: “In an increasingly frantic world, quiet zones in urban areas can be essential.
“It is invaluable to have spaces rich in wildlife, where people can chill out and reconnect with nature.”
A Cardiff Council spokeswoman said: “We have nominated these six public open spaces for designation as ‘quiet areas’ as we believe they best fit the criteria in the Welsh Government scheme. Additional sites can be considered at a later date.”
Environment Minister John Griffiths said: “It is important that people living and working in large urban areas have access to quiet areas where they can relax, unwind and enjoy time with family and friends.
“Many of the areas in this consultation are home to birds and other wildlife.
“The Welsh Government values the role these areas play and is committed to preserving them for the future.”
The consultation period ends on May 7.