Thursday 17 July 2008

Luas causing aggravating noise, court told

A couple whose home in south Dublin is close to the Luas Green Line have claimed before the High Court that they have been exposed to very serious and aggravating noise on a daily basis since the Luas went into operation some four years ago.

Paula and Vincent Smyth, Cambridge Terrace, Leeson Park, Dublin, have brought proceedings against the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) and Veolia Transport Ireland Ltd, which operates the Luas on behalf of the agency, while the Attorney General is a notice party to the case.

The couple want injunctions restraining the defendants operating the Luas in a manner that causes a noise nuisance and requiring them to erect an appropriate barrier to reduce the noise.

They are also seeking damages.

The defendants deny the claims, contend that the Luas is being operated in accordance with the terms of the Transport Light Rail Acts of 1996 and 2001 and also plead that the operation of the Luas under those Acts cannot as a matter of law give rise to the nuisance that is alleged.

Opening the case before Ms Justice Mary Laffoy yesterday, Séamus Woulfe SC, for the couple, said their enjoyment of their home has been "severely undermined and compromised" due to noise from the Luas since it began operating in July 2004.

He said the Smyths' back garden was in close proximity to elevated sections of the Luas line running between Sandyford and St Stephen's Green.

During the planning stages of the Luas in the late 1990s, the Smyths, who have lived at Leeson Park since 1992, believed that special noise reduction screens would be erected at certain sensitive locations where the light rail would pass, counsel said.

The Smyths, based on an undertaking by RPA, had a legitimate expectation measures would be put in place to reduce noise levels to within acceptable levels, he said.

However, the failure to install the noise reduction screens had exposed the Smyths to very serious and aggravating noise levels which totally disrupted their enjoyment of their home.

A Luas tram travelled past their home 330 times between 5.30am and 12.30am every weekday, and passed 254 times daily at the weekend.

The Smyths were unable to enjoy their garden or hold a conversation when a tram passed due to the noise.

The glass in the kitchen area vibrated when a Luas passed and it was impossible to entertain guests, counsel said.

The most significant problem was that they were unable to sleep properly at night or in the early morning, he added.

The Smyths' bedroom faced onto the Luas embankment and they regularly had to sleep with the windows shut and wearing ear plugs.

A consultant engineer who measured the noise levels arising from the operation of the Luas found that those levels within the couple's home exceeded acceptable or guideline measurements for residential areas.

Counsel also argued that the defendants did not have an immunity under the Transport Acts from being sued in the matter.

The case is expected to last several days.

The Irish Times

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