During the year 10 complaints of noise nuisances were received. In 6 instances the complaints were found to be justified. Appropriate action was taken and the noises were reduced to a reasonable amount having regard to the trade or business involved. No action was taken with reference to the other four cases as investigation failed to substantiate the complaint of nuisance.
Complaints of noise are increasing. During 1937, 83 observations were made.
“In noise we are faced with an environmental problem which has markedly increased in significance in recent years with the development of mechanised civilisation.
It must be recognised that individuals vary very much in their sensitiveness to noise, but there is a general consensus of opinion that the widespread use of recent inventions, particularly radio sets, by the public, the increase of motor traffic and modern methods of building and road construction, have led to an increase in noise which is intolerable to many. Such noise is calculated not only to handicap the performance of work but to destroy the amenities of home life, and by disturbing rest and sleep contribute to ill-health in the community. Various measures may be taken to ensure that standards of noise are not exceeded in flats or other premises. They require to take account of the noise made by traffic and industrial noises and that made in the building itself by neighbours. They comprise questions of technique building and internal planning, town planning, legislation and education.” (League of Nations, Bulletin of the Health Organisation, August, 1937).
Nuisances from noise may now be dealt with by the local authority under the Nuisance Sections of the Public Health (London) Act, 1936, a provision to this effect having been included in the London County Council (General Powers) Act, of 1937. Under this provision, a noise nuisance is deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made, etc., any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise, which is injurious or dangerous to health. Exemption is, however, provided in the case of noise occasioned by the carrying out of works under any Act of the County Council or Sanitary Authorities or by any public undertaking. In the case of proceedings taken in respect of noise from any trade, business or occupation, it is a good defence for the person summoned to show that he has taken the best practicable means for preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to cost and other relevant circumstances. Seventeen complaints were received during the year and these were adequately dealt with by informal action. These related to noise of machinery in business premises adjoining dwellings, building operations carried out at night, the use of electric drills in streets or in demolition of buildings, wireless sets, dogs, &c. One complaint was of noise caused by persons frequenting a club in the early hours of the morning. Admirable as these provisions are, they bring but little comfort to those who reside near busy streets where late motor traffic frequently interrupts the hours of sleep.
Noise (London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1937.
By Section 66 of this Act a noise nuisance shall be a nuisance which may be dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. It should be noted that no complaint to a court shall be effective unless it is made by not less than three persons, either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. Further, in any proceedings, it is a good defence to show that the best practical means have been used to prevent or mitigate the nuisance, due regard being paid to the cost and other relevant circumstances. Six complaints of noise were received last year, but no action under the Act was taken.
Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances in the Public Health Act, 1875, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business, or occupation it shall be a good defence to say that the best practical means of preventing or mitigating it having regard to the cost have been adopted. During the year three cases of noise nuisance have been dealt with and action taken in all three.
Nuisance from Noise.
Section 106 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1938, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances of the Public Health Act, 1936, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating it, having regard to the cost, have been adopted. Ten complaints of nuisances from noise were received during the year. Investigations were made and where possible appropriate action was taken and the noise abated or reduced to a minimum.
Complaints were made in respect of 23 noise nuisances during the year, and these were adequately dealt with by informal action. They related to the noise of machinery, wireless sets, electric drills in streets, &c. One complaint was of noise from a pin-table saloon and another from an all-night cafe. Fire alarm bells on two large adjoining buildings caused considerable annoyance to residents in the neighbourhood by ringing almost every day at about 2 a.m. The cause of this baffled investigation at first, until it transpired that the ringing of the bells coincided with the flushing of the street by the Highways Department. The operation of the hydrants had caused the bells to ring, the alarm systems being connected with “sprinkler” extinguishing systems. Certain minor adjustments in the sprinkler systems were all that was necessary to abate the nuisance.
During the year 35 complaints of noise were received, fourteen relating to street hawking, seven to street musicians, seven to wireless loudspeakers, gramophones and similar instruments, two to children, two to dogs, two to building operations, and one to a motor vehicle. In securing attention to the several provisions relating to noise nuisances, the temporary streets nuisance inspector rendered valuable assistance, and also cooperated with the police in regard to a number of the complaints received. In two instances of nuisance caused by wireless loudspeakers the issue of a notice was necessary to obtain a remedy.