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Tuesday, September 15, 1998 Published at 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK


Noise annoys more than ever

Could greater spending on sound insulation be the answer?

More than 170,000 people complained about noise in the UK last year, a record 3% rise according to environmental health officers.

Emma Simpson: Modern life is getting louder all the time
Such is the scale of the problem that in one south London borough, Southwark, a team of local authority noise inspectors receives about 1,000 calls a month.

Val Gibson of the anti-noise campaigners Noise Network said: "I don't think people realise how powerful stereos are.

"They have in effect a lethal weapon in their hands."

Complaints recorded by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health included loud stereos, do-it-yourself experts who constantly use high-powered drills and barking dogs.

However, of those complaints that did end up at town hall departments, a higher number failed to be classified as valid nuisances, suggesting that some members of the public still have unrealistic expectations of their noise environment.


CIEH assistant secretary, Howard Price, said: "The key message is the need for tolerance and consideration of other people's lifestyles.

"These figures suggest that people might be becoming more selective in the type of noise complaint they report.

"If so, then it is good news for local authorities, council tax payers and those with justified complaints. Scarce resources can be directed to where the problem is most acute.

"We can't all be expected to go around on tip-toe, yet every one needs peace and quiet. It is much better to come to a prior understanding or to deal with a disturbance informally than to go straight to the council."

He called for more spending on noise insulation in both new and old housing.

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