UK councils rec’d 315K noise complaints during the last year21 July 2009
UK: The finding was issued by non-combustible stone wool insulation manufacturer Rockwool, writes David Davies. The research – compiled by Rockwool from 335 responses to Freedom of Information Act requests issued to the UK’s 419 councils in June – focused on complaints relating to private residences during the last 12 months.
Under the stipulations of the Environmental Protection Act, local authorities are required to take reasonable practical steps to investigate complaints regarding noise that may be prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Residents failing to comply with a noise abatement notice issued by a council are liable to substantial fines.
As a result of the 315,838 complaints received during the last 12 months, 8,069 noise abatement notices were issued by environmental health offices. In addition, 715 anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) were secured by councils on the basis of noise.
Westminster was especially badly affected by noise problems, with the City Council receiving more complaints per head of population than any other local authority in the UK. At the other end of the spectrum, the council on the idyllic Isles of Scilly in Cornwall did not record a single complaint about noise from a private residence in the last 12 months.
The research also indicates considerable disparity in the degree to which local authorities are acting to prevent neighbourhood noise pollution. For example, whilst Edinburgh City Council enforced 27 confiscations of equipment in the last year, 223 councils across the country did not make a single confiscation. UK-wide, 524 confiscations of equipment were authorised in the last 12 months, including the removal of powerful speakers, stereos and TVs.
"Across the UK there are huge differences in local authorities’ treatment of domestic noise complaints," commented Hans Schreuder, managing director of Rockwool. "While some councils focus on mediation and negotiation, others operate a strict policy of enforcement and confiscation of equipment. Many householders are relying on their local authority to take appropriate steps to protect their health. Living with persistent noise is extremely stressful and can have a severe impact on an individual’s physical and psychological well-being."
Schreuder also emphasised the other measures that can be investigated by householders, including "pro-active steps they can take to help reduce unwarranted noise entering their homes. Installing loft, cavity wall and external insulation can significantly reduce nuisance noise, while also reducing energy bills and cutting fuel costs."