Noise complaint rights 'face axe'

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Thu Aug 14 21:03:54 BST 2008

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Noise complaint rights 'face axe'

BBC Online, Thursday, 14 August 2008.

New planning laws designed to speed up decisions on big developments could 
stop councils acting on people's noise complaints, local authorities say.

They say a new clause gives developers a "blanket exemption" from complaints 
about smoke, odour, noise and light.

Ministers say people will be able to seek compensation under new laws, which 
they say do not "immunise" developers.

In June, the government saw off a Labour rebellion over the Planning Bill, 
which largely applies to England.

Many MPs were concerned that allowing decisions to be taken by a new planning 
quango, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), would be undemocratic.

'Tying hands'

But the bill completed its Commons stages and is now going through the House 
of Lords, where it will be examined line-by-line in October.

However Lacors, which oversees councils' environmental protection work, has 
concerns about a new amendment which states criminal or civil proceedings 
cannot be brought for nuisance over works "authorised by an order granting 
development consent". 

It says it is "tying the hands of councils, leaving them unable to respond to 
the legitimate concerns of local people" and has written to Communities 
Secretary Hazel Blears to complain.

It is backed by the charity Environmental Protection UK, which says the 
clause "would appear to remove access to any remedy for local health or 
environmental impacts caused by dust, smoke, odour, noise or light".

Policy officer Mary Stevens said: "This apparent blanket exemption is highly 

'Quicker' compensation

And Paul Bettison, of the Local Government Association, said: "It is totally 
unacceptable that people should not be able to complain about noise, light, 
pollution and general disturbances to their day-to-day lives.

"Councils need to be able to hold construction companies to account to ensure 
that disruption for local people is kept to an absolute minimum." 

But a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said people 
suffering nuisance would be able to seek compensation, which was "a quicker 
and more reliable route" than a nuisance claim.

He added: "The commission will assess all the local impacts and be able to put 
clear conditions on any planning permission to make sure people are 

"If a developer doesn't comply with these, the Bill gives local authorities 
explicit powers to get an injunction to stop them and prosecute them.

"These improvements mean that the potential impacts of a project will be 
properly exposed, considered and dealt with up front, at the inquiry - rather 
than people only finding out about them later and having to then challenge 
things through the courts."

- -- 

"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burroughs, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
For details see

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at
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