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The Right to Quiet Society's contribution to the Consultation On Implementing The Environmental Noise Directive In Wales

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 well-being 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 organizations like the WHO, the Franklin Institute and many others. Much of this information is available on the corresponding websites, including our humble pages at Right to Quiet.

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 recognized 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 was eliminated and all unavoidable noise, as a by-product of otherwise "desirable" or necessary tasks, 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
Right to Quiet Society

The summary of responses received and comments on points raised have been published at the bottom of the page here