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The BBC's David Sillito spends a night following Westminster Council's noise inspectors
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The BBC's James Hirst: "Westminster was given a taste of what it's like to live near Heathrow"
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Wednesday, 7 July, 1999, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Protests over noise get louder

People are becoming less tolerant of loud music from pubs and clubs
People in the UK are becoming more intolerant about noise, according to latest research.

The National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (NSCA) said the rapid increase in complaints about noisy neighbours is due to a decline in people's ability to compromise.

"Neighbours from hell" who row constantly, aircraft, loud stereos, pubs and clubs, are the main causes of dispute on what has been earmarked as Noise Action Day.

Call for consideration

Campaigners are marking the day by urging people to show more consideration to those around them.

Valerie Weedon of The Noise Network said noise was a health hazard which cannot be eliminated but can be reduced.


Living near Heathrow can be a noisy experience
She said decent wall insulation and quieter products were essential.

Richard Mills, general secretary of the National Society for Clean Air, called for a National Noise Strategy to give coherence to noise policy in the UK.

"It will enable us to work towards achieving a more acceptable noise climate for everyone," he said.

Government 'must do more'

Protesters against aircraft noise are joining calls for action.

John Stewart, chairman of ClearSkies Against Aircraft Noise, said the government had "turned a deaf ear" to its requests to do something about the intolerable noise experienced by people living under the Heathrow flight path.

He said: "It is like living under a ten-lane freeway, roaring over our heads day and night. The government's do-nothing attitude is plain crazy."

Hillingdon Council in west London gets the vast majority of complaints about aircraft noise from both Heathrow and nearby RAF Northolt.

Council spokeswoman Toni McColville told BBC News Online: "There's not a great deal we can do but the British Airports Authority does pay out noise fines if they exceed the designated number of night flights.

"The fines are spent on environment projects around the Heathrow area."

Complaints hotline

The NSCA survey found that despite the rise in complaints about noise, 94% of local authorities said they did not intend to implement the Noise Act of 1996, which deals with night-time noise from private homes.

The majority said they preferred informal means of resolving disputes.

But Hillingdon has taken what it describes as a more "pro-active approach" to domestic nuisances by setting up a 24-hour Noise Line for residents to phone and complain about loud music.

"Most comply and turn the noise down," said Ms McColville.

Those that do not face a visit from the police, a fine of up to 5,000 and a criminal record.

Pubs and clubs that refuse to reduce the volume can be stung for as much as 20,000.

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