- Politics and Social Issues
Sound pollution - Stopping it
Sound pollution - we've all had it
Whether it be a neighbour's noisy dog, someone's stereo, TV or loud behaviour, most of us have been subjected to a neighbour's thoughtlessness where sound pollution is concerned.
The people who lived above us in one place we lived in, used to play their music at ungodly hours of the day and night and frighteningly loudly too.
One night, he had side one of Dark Side of the Moon playing on repeat from eleven thirty in the evening and it was still going at eight the next morning - over and over and over and over and over again.
We tried banging on the door, but he was out cold and didn't hear us.
I so wanted to pull his brains out through his nostrils, but sadly you can't do that.
Differing types of sound pollution
There are two main forms of sound pollution:
It sounds too simple doesn't it?
The majority of the unwanted noise that comes in to most people's homes is from one of the two of the above and if you're really unlucky, both.
This is possibly the only one you can do nothing about and about the only thing that can be suggested, is to move; relocate elsewhere.
I know it sounds brutal, but I know from experience how places can change over a given time. Our flat was literally two hundred yards from the centre of town, but was quiet and mellow - for a while.
After a few years, it got to the stage where we couldn't park and we couldn't hear ourselves think, it was so noisy.
Our only recourse was to move.
We could have gone to the council, but because we were living on the edge of a commercial area, we would only have been asked what our expectations were. Councils nowadays are far more likely to back something that is commercially viable as it means that they are seen to be on the side of the people with the money.
It was about time we moved anyway, but it was a wrench.
Neighbours are what to me, seem to provide the rest of the noise we could all do without.
They play their music too loud, rev car, bike and/or truck engines, have noisy and ill-trained pets and have noisy and thoughtless children.
Can't really think of any reason to be near any of them, but that's not always an option.
I think we have all lived near to people with yappy dogs that seem happy only when there's a postman or a passer-by in the vicinity.
We lived next door to someone whose dogs would bark at every opportunity, yet they denied it happened. One even said "He just likes to let me know when there's someone near."
Would that that were true, but that mutt would bark for ages and ages - especially if the neighbour wasn't there at the time.
The same neighbours also had children who wouldn't think anything of having screaming contests. These could last anything up to an hour and no matter how nicely I asked, their mother just didn't take any notice.
Once again, the only option for us was to relocate.
Getting them to see sense
Whatever noise they make, it can encroach upon us whether we like it or not. Sometimes they are unaware of this fact and simply need to be told of the noise they're making.
I have set out below the four stages in bringing a complaint to bear on antisocial neighbours:
Go easy here and give them the benefit of the doubt - at least to begin with. Most people will listen to reason, as long as you're reasonable.
Ask nicely that they tone down whatever it is that they're doing and nine times out of ten, they will be only too happy to oblige.
That of course may not happen, but you have at least gone through the first stage. You have made them aware.
Should your little chat not have the desired effect, the second stage would be to talk to other neighbours and find out whether they are experiencing similar problems.
If necessary, go round together and tell the offending neighbour that he/she/they are causing a disturbance and that you all ask that they refrain from whatever it is they are doing that's driving you up the wall.
Call the landlord. Ask him/her whether they can't step in. Again, now that you have the backing of some other neighbours, you can then approach the landlord/owner/agent en masse.
Call the police. If you're on the phone and the noise is happening at that time, hold the phone out so that the person at the other end can hear it too. Tell them that you have been putting up with it for however long and it's time it stopped.
You will then have the word of the neighbours, the fact that you have approached the offending person/people and that they still persist in causing a nuisance.
Some people are apt to threaten retaliatory action if you tell them you're not happy with what they're doing and this can be a problem.
If this is an issue, then skip stage one, but don't skip the other stages.
- DO ascertain whether this person or these people are causing an issue for others living nearby and try to get their support.
- DO inform the landlord if that's appropriate as he/she might be able to force the unwelcome noise maker to leave.
- DO NOT go straight to the police. This is likely to escalate the situation beyond what you're prepared for. Some can use intimidation, threatening behaviour or even violence if you look like you're likely to prevent them from doing as they please.
This all sounds like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but sometimes in order to safeguard yourself, you have to make sure you cover your bases.
In England, reasonable noise is allowable between certain hours. Thereafter, steps can be taken to silence unruly neighbours should it become a persistent problem. I don't know what the story is in America or other places, but certainly I would expect that neighbours have some recourse.
I know it sounds a long way round, but offering violence, tampering with your neighbour's possessions or pets may well land you in more trouble than it's worth, so take a deep breath and employ some patience. It's not fair, but it is sometimes the only way.
Soundproofing can be installed, but it is costly and if the property doesn't belong to you, then is a waste of time and money. In addition, it can only do so much and unless you want to create an anechoic chamber, there's little chance that you're going to dampen the sound completely.
If the sound is encroaching from outside or the property, it's possible to reduce sound ingress by installing double glazing, but again, if the property isn't yours, this might not be worthwhile. also, as soon as you open a window for ventilation, it ceases to deaden the sound.
There are no gadgets, gizmos or other products that can interfere with people's stereos, musical instruments, amplifiers or televisions that would not disrupt your own and if informing the people concerned, the other neighbours, the landlord or the police is getting you nowhere, then the only real recourse is to move.