Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Noisy neighbours could be hit with ASBOs

HOME and car owners who allow their alarms to blare continuously could be hit by fines or even an ASBO behaviour warning under new legislation to be brought before the Oireachtas this autumn.

The new laws, which will allow local authorities to directly shut down the alarms of repeat offenders, are currently being prepared by environment minister John Gormley.

The proposals will also allow gardaí to intervene if residents complain frequently enough about a specific house or car.

Complaints about noisy alarms going off throughout the night are amongst the most common complaints received by local authorities, landlords and the gardaí.

The new noise pollution legislation will also apply to construction sites as well as commercial premises, particularly pubs and nightclubs.

A code of practice will be put in place for construction, commercial and domestic property-holders with strict rules on what is acceptable.

Details of the scheme released by the Department of Justice said gardaí could also be called in to deal with repeat offenders.

The department said: "Local authorities will have more effective and speedier enforcement powers to deal with nuisances from particular noise sources, including specific powers of direct intervention in the case of continuously sounding alarms.

"It is also proposed to extend some of the enhanced powers to An Garda Síochaná in certain circumstances. There will, in addition, be measures to increase awareness of noise nuisance and of how it can be remedied.

"Under the bill, it will be possible to prescribe time limits for the operation of alarms and to provide for direct intervention to disable alarms from the outside of premises and to issue fixed-payment notices for breaches of the time limit.

"In circumstances where the noise nuisance relating to neighbours is anti-social within the meaning of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, a member of the Garda Síochaná may issue a behaviour warning."

The Department of the Environment, which is drafting the legislation, said the alarm laws were a follow-up on a commitment made in the Programme for Government and were being treated as "a matter of priority".

A total of 235 submissions had been received from members of the public after a discussion paper was published last August, the department said. "The deadline for submissions on the consultation has now passed and the submissions received have been considered.

"Following the consultation process, the general scheme of a bill on noise nuisance was developed by this department. Last month... [the] Minister for the Environment brought the general scheme to cabinet to seek approval to commence the drafting of the bill. The general scheme was approved and it is anticipated that a draft bill will go before the Oireachtas this autumn."

Sunday Tribune


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