Dear Mr. Bell,
The issue of loud, very frequent explosions from propane cannons to protect berry fields from birds was brought to our attention years ago. This matter, unfortunately, has been unsuccessfully pursued by one of our members during the nineties. With berry crops, especially fashionable blue‑berries, having become increasingly lucrative, ever more farmland is used for that purpose. Consequently, ever more people living, recreating or working within earshot of that noise have become and are becoming adversely affected by it.
Too often we hear the argument that the farms were there before the residents, for which the latter have no reason to complain. This may be justified where such noisy cannons were already in use prior to any residents moving there. However, residents alone cannot be burdened with the full responsibility. There are more and more residents afflicted now, who lived adjacent to farms for decades already without problems, until the crop choice became berries, vulnerable to pilfering birds. Only then the trouble started.
Noise is not a mere nuisance. It does not recognise property limits [boundaries], and trespasses on other people's properties. Noise has very serious health implications. It affects people as well as animals, documentation of which can be provided. Noise is, indeed, a much neglected health hazard that ought to receive due attention by our authorities. We understand the importance of farming; however, there needs to be a strict limit on the use of bird‑scare devices that generate detrimental noise. There are alternative means available to protect such crops (i.e. nets, infra‑red devices etc.) that make no noise. For instance, in Germany, noise‑emitting bird‑scare devices liable to disturb residents are restricted and may be used only where farmers demonstrate they are the only effective means, and provide residents with adequate protection from the noise.
If inflicting unhealthy noise by farmers on others happens to be justified by a law like the Farm Practices Protection Act, we would argue that this would contradict other equally or more important laws that protect human well-being and health. The World Health Organisation provides plenty of information on how badly noise affects our health. I would even suspect that human rights laws could be brought to bear here. Indeed, with this problem rapidly growing, there could well be legal action looming, all of which could be avoided if proper action were taken now to change this farming practice and protect or compensate adversely affected residents.
I would very much appreciate to hear from you how your ministry will address this serious problem, particularly when considering that all sound, just as all light, eventually converts into heat, adding yet another "straw to the overburdened camel's back", respectively global warming.