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NEIGHBOURHOOD NOISE COMPLAINTS UP BY OVER 10%

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There has been another substantial increase in domestic noise complaints received by local authorities according to...
There has been another substantial increase in domestic noise complaints received by local authorities according to the latest figures released today by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, with the number of complaints reaching 144,943, up 10% on the previous year.

The figures are part of a wider environmental health survey of almost 300 local authorities in England and Wales and cover the year 1994/5. Noise complaints concerning industrial and commercial activities increased by 12% over the previous year, while complaints about aircraft noise, which is exempt from existing legislation, increased significantly - by 65% over the previous year.

Of the total number of complaints confirmed as 'nuisances' by local authorities, 33,944 were remedied informally. Nearly 6,000 notices were served and 349 prosecutions taken.

Commenting on the figures, Alan Higgins, chair of the CIEH's environmental protection committee, said:

'These figures highlight the problems faced by local authorities when faced with the increased public expectation for a peaceful environment. Complaints of excessive noise from industrial and commercial sources are relatively straightforward to deal with. Much more difficult are complaints associated with differing lifestyles and domestic arrangements, like dogs barking and noise created by domestic chores and DIY activities.

'There seems to be disparities in the way that local authorities respond to these sorts of neighbourhood noise complaints and these need to be addressed. Sometimes informal action is the best and least expensive way of sorting out the problems; on other occasions, when lack of consideration or anti-social behaviour is a major factor, clearly it is much more difficult.'

The CIEH is currently drawing up detailed management guidelines on domestic noise control in order to assist local authorities to react to complaints in a consistent and effective way.

With the previous year's figures in brackets, this is a breakdown of complaints received by responding authorities. There were a total of 144,943 (131,153) domestic noise complaints; 49,248 (43,737) industrial and commercial activity complaints; 8,958 complaints of vehicle, machinery and equipment noise (a new category); 3,094 (3,409) complaints of noise in the street and 10,936 (6,435) complaints of noise at construction sites - an increase in this category of 70%.

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