Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Fall 2008 - page 3

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Singing mice, rejoicing

Mice are known to move about quietly, at best chirping occasionally, but certainly not for warbling over several minutes. However, this is precisely what these little rodents do.

That’s what a scientist in the USA discovered. He recorded the sound from mice with an ultrasound microphone, played it back at slow speed and edited the recording with a special computer programme. As a result, the sound became audible.

It sounded like a lyrical tweeting and chirruping. The trigger of these vocal interludes was the scent of female sex hormones. When a male mouse detects a female in heat close by it simply rejoices musically.

Rural Peace and quiet shattered for millions

By Patrick Sawer
Traffic noise poses a serious problem for three million residents of the [UK] countryside, research suggests. The number of people suffering regular substantial disturbance from the roar of cars and lorries has risen by half a million in the past decade, campaigners estimate.

A report from the Noise Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) calls for speed limits on dual carriageways “close to settlements” to be cut by 20 mph, lowering limits from 70 mph to 50 mph on rural carriageways near country towns and villages, and from 60 mph to 40 mph on many other rural roads. There should be restrictions on cars in National Parks and scenic areas.

According to the report, Traffic Noise in Rural Areas, the problem is much worse than the Government admits. When assessing road-building and noise-reduction schemes, such as compensation for double glazing, officials assume that traffic


disturbance is not a problem more than 300 yards from the road. But the report says that people report severe disturbance as far as two miles away. Its authors interviewed residents and found:
• Increased vehicle speeds and traffic levels have led to more noise in rural areas;
• Disturbance from traffic noise is now a problem even in lightly populated areas;
• Lorries, high-performance cars and off-road vehicles have made matters worse.

The Noise Association’s report builds on research by CPRE, which produced a map showing the noisiest and most “tranquil” parts of the country, drawn up by scientists at Northumbria University.

Department of Transport research shows that while traffic levels in urban areas fell by 2% last year, they increased on minor rural roads and rural A-roads by 1% and on motorways by 2%.

—Weekly Telegraph

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Decibel readings on some Greater Vancouver transit buses

On a trip from UBC in Vancouver to Richmond Centre and on to Steveston, on a 480 and a 410 bus on June 16, 2008: from 64dBA to 77dBA inside the buses (engine running, cell phones ringing, people chattering, other traffic going by).

Law to halt noise complaints
Government ties the hands of local councils

By Christopher Hope

Rights removed
Householders could lose their legal right to complain about noise, pollution or disruption caused by the construction of major projects under proposals set out in the Planning Bill. It will allow up to 50 projects, including airports, rail links, trunk roads and power stations, to be given the go-ahead each year by the proposed national planning commission.

The Government has tried to reassure councils that they would have a role through local impact assessments that would highlight any negative impacts of a development. However, a clause in the Bill means councils would be unable to act on any complaints from local people regarding nuisance caused by noise, smell, light or pollution once work has started. This could in theory allow the developers to work around the clock with no regard for local residents.

At present all building sites must follow environmental guidelines. If the rules are


broken, local authorities can force work to stop. In a letter to Hazel Blears, the Local Government Secretary, council leaders said the clause would silence opposition to building projects via the back door.

Geoffrey Theobald, the chairman of the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, said: “What this clause effectively says is that roads, airports and power stations are more important than people’s health. Every-body has a right to enjoy their home without being disturbed by pollution such as noise, dust, smells or artificial light. By exempting major infrastructure projects from nuisance laws the Government is tying the hands of councils, leaving them unable to respond to the legitimate concerns of local people.”

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “We don’t accept these claims. The Planning Bill will ensure that anyone who suffers nuisance will be able to seek compensation.

—Weekly Telegraph

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