Saturday 19 July 2008

330 trams pass couple's home daily, court told

A SOUTH Dublin couple who claim their home lives have been seriously affected by noise from the Luas have told the High Court they were assured before the network went operational that noise levels from the trams would be "low to minimal".

Trams now pass them 330 times a day, the court was told.

Paula and Vincent Smyth of Cambridge Terrace, Leeson Park, have brought legal proceedings against the Railway Procurement Agency and Veolia Transport Ireland Ltd, which operates the Luas on behalf of the agency, over alleged noise nuisance caused by hundreds of trams passing their home daily. The Attorney General is a notice party to the case.

The Smyth home is some 50m (55yds) from an elevated section of the Luas Green Line between St Stephen's Green and Sandyford.

Their two-storey terraced home is a protected structure located between the Charlemont and Ranelagh stops.

The couple are seeking injunctions directing the defendants to erect an appropriate barrier to reduce noise, restraining the defendants from operating the Luas in a manner that causes a noise nuisance and reduces their use and enjoyment of their home. They also want damages.

The defendants deny the claims, and argue the operation of the Luas railway system is in accordance with the terms of the Transport Light Rail Acts of 1996 and 2001.

They also claim the operation of the Luas system within the parameters of those Acts cannot as a matter of law give rise to the nuisance that the Smyths complain of.

In evidence yesterday, Vincent Smyth said his and his wife's use and enjoyment of the garden at the rear of their home has "diminished greatly" due to the noise from the Luas.

He said it was impossible to have a conversation there due to the trams. Trams passed their home 330 times every weekday and 254 times at the weekends.

He said he had difficulty sleeping at night due to the noise, which was only slightly reduced by closing the bedroom window, and found he was tired during the mornings.

Cross-examined by Nuala Butler SC, for the defence, Mr Smyth said when the Luas was at the planning stages he and his wife accepted assurances from the defendants that the level of noise from the trams would be "low to minimal".

Mr Smyth, a chartered accountant, said he did not have concerns about noise levels during the planning or public consultation stage of Luas because he believed what was said in documentation from the defendants.

He believed, as a lay person, that "a low noise is a low noise". It was "not something that you use ear plugs for, or have to close your bedroom windows for".

Paula Smyth told the court the "oasis" that was their back garden had been "destroyed" by noise from the trams.

Mrs Smyth, a solicitor, said they were initially supportive of the Luas. However, they now looked forward to winter storms because these muted the noise from the Luas.

The case continues.

The Irish Times

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