Noise retained as public health indicator

decibel chart showing levels of common noisesNoise Action Week welcomes the continued inclusion of noise exposure as an indicator of public health in the revised Public Health Outcomes Framework, published today by the Department of Health.   These indicators are intended to be used to inform decisions impacting on public health.  There are three public health indicators for noise are based on information currently collected, covering people affected by transport noise and the rate of complaints about noise to local authorities. Noise remains one of the most common causes of complaint to local authorities – and as not everyone troubled by noise reports this to their local authority, the reported figures are very likely to under represent the extent of the problem. Noise can affect people where ever they live – as demonstrated by recent reports of actor Tom Conti waging leaf blower wars where millionaires dwell in Hampstead, prosecutions for partying students in  Bournemouth and increasing noise complaints in Wigan.

According to the most recently published figures, for 2013/14, many areas are seeing a slightly lower rate of noise complaints overall. While this decrease may seem like an improvement – less resources in local authorities mean less staff available to respond to complaints in many areas. Also, homeowners often don’t complain for fear that doing so will impact on the sale value of their property. However, if you don’t complain about an ongoing issue it is far less unlikely to be resolved and in the mean time your peace of mind and potentially your health will suffer. Local authorities experiencing increases in complaints – include Bristol, Doncaster, Coventry, Thurrock, Brighton and Hove, Colchester, London, Newcastle u Tyne, Norwich.

With nearly 400,000 noise complaints reproted across England, education about noise continues to be crucial in reducing the impact noise in neighbourhoods has on public health. Noise Action Week is a great opportunity to highlight local issues and promote simple, practical solutions to every day noise problems.

More on the Public Health Outcomes Framework and noise complaints can be found on the Department of Health website.

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