Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2012, page 3

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Consultation request and responses

On account of our presence on the Internet, we can be seen and contacted by the whole world. In our Spring 2007 NOISELETTER, we published some samples of queries we received. More recently we also had a request to comment on implementing the Environmental Noise Directive in Wales, UK. Following below are parts of that correspondence.

Dear Consultee,

You are invited to respond to a consultation on implementing the Environmental Noise Directive in Wales: the designation of quiet areas in agglomerations and Noise Action Planning Priority Areas.

This consultation can be seen on the Welsh Assembly Government website

Should you be unable to locate this consultation, (this is subject to change due to occasional website amendments) then the exact web-link is here

Responses should be received by 5th May 2011.

Yours sincerely,

Russell Lang

Radioactivity and Pollution Prevention Branch/ YGangen Ymbelydredd ac Atal Llygredd
Sustainable Energy & Industry Wales/Ynni a Diwydiant Cynaliadwy Cymru
Welsh Assembly Government/ Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru
Tel./ Ffon (029) 20821588


Dear Mr. Lang,

Thank you for sending us your invitation to comment on the Environmental Noise Directive in Wales. By looking at your web-page, it is clear that the comments to be made would be applicable to the local situation in Wales, which we are not at all familiar with. However, I take the liberty to at least offer some general comments regarding noise, its possible effects on the health and wellbeing of humans and animals and how to counteract it.

It is now abundantly clear that noise of all types can have rather deleterious effects, and there was considerable evidence of that compiled by organisations like the WHO, the Franklin Institute and many others. Much of this information is available on the corresponding websites, including our humble pages at Quiet.org Unfortunately, noise cannot be dealt with the same way as, for instance, toxic substances are. Noise is a physical phenomenon that leaves no residues, but can have adverse physiological and biological effects on humans and other creatures. This is very often misunderstood or not at all understood by many people, for which we deem it very important to generate more public awareness about the effects of noise.

When looking at the environment, we not merely have to see part of it, like air, water and soil, but also the soundscape. The latter must be recognised as an indispensable, integral part of the environment. Without this recognition we are unable to comprehend the negative effects of noise and thus the importance of the prevention and abatement of it. Making noise of various kinds is too often synonymous with being active and making progress. This, of course, is a misconception. Those who fall prey to this misconception are unable, possibly unwilling, to understand the detrimental effects noise can have and the fact that much of that noise is unnecessary. We are, with other words, confronted with a psychological problem resulting from a physical phenomenon causing illness.

To explain in part why noise-makers have to take responsibility and be considerate, I say: "Quiet is a neutral condition, in which no noise is imposed on anybody. Yet, when someone makes noise of any kind, that noise is immediately imposed on everyone within earshot. For that alone, the onus to be considerate ought to be on the noise-maker." There is also the issue of the "commons" versus private property. Les Blomberg of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC) wrote an excellent article about that. Dr. Louis Hagler (California) wrote a paper on the ill-effects of noise, which is posted on the NPC's website as well. Both can be found here and here respectively. In my humble opinion, this world would be a much healthier place if all unnecessary noise would be eliminated and all unavoidable noise, as a by-product of otherwise "desirable" or necessary tasks, would be kept to a minimum. All that's missing is sufficient understanding of the matter and the willingness to act.

On behalf of the Right to Quiet Society, I express my hope that the designation of quiet areas in agglomerations and Noise Action Planning Priority Areas will turn out to be a success in the sense I attempted to explain above.

Hans Schmid
President, Right to Quiet Society

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