27 August, 2006

Silence Please

Sure it's a silly pic, but any photo-op is better than the kiss of death of a press conference in Buswell's Hotel. Our Neighbourhood Noise Bill is simply a way of making it easier to tackle noise in our everyday lives. The effects of pollution can be obvious like a fish-kill, or less easy to detect like greenhouse gas emissions. Many people simply don't get it that noise is also a form of pollution and deserves to be treated as seriously as any other type of pollution.

Councillor David Healy pointed out that the noise is not simply a nuisance but has significant effects on human health, stress levels, memory, learning, attention and mood. We want to put in place a single point of contact for noise nuisance within local authorities, plus a freephone number and the powers to actually do something about the problem. There's nothing worse than waiting weeks or months for a hearing in the District Court and than not having the other side turn up.

Years ago, I had a friend who took a hammer to an alarm on a wall beside his apartment, but what he didn't realise was that it had an internal battery that kept sounding until he had silenced it with a lump hammer. We'd give Noise Control Officers the right to remove a building alarm if it isn't registered, and if the key-holder can't be contacted, and give the Guards power to tow a vehicle if the alarm keeps on sounding for hours.

As Ireland becomes more urbanised noise is becoming a bigger problem. There are some great sites devoted to noise pollution, from the Site of Silence in the Netherlands to the US clearing house No Noise, and the Right to Quiet Society in Canada. Our Bill would help, but we also need to tighten up the Building Regulations and ensure that they're better monitored, as many apartment buildings don't seem to be up to spec on this front.

Essentially it's a quality of life issue that the Greens feel requires action, and yes, it is on our shopping list for Government.

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