Loud and proud

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I FEEL that the noise in Spain is one of its defining features: the honking of horns in celebration, the late night chatter in the streets, the family fun in the community pools, the late night music emitting from the bars into the early evenings. It was with some concern, and a lot of confusion, that I read the Junta de Andalucía Environmental Department is putting pressure on the Mayors of the region to act against noise pollution.

There is no denying Spain is a noisy country. As I recall it is one of the top THREE loudest countries in the world, (Japan was the loudest if memory serves me right), and it is a well deserved position! The thing is, it never bothers me that much. I tend to associate excessive noise with enjoyment: a concert, the roar of success from a crowd, the over excitement of children playing, the exuberance of a party. I suspect that ones person’s noise pollution, is another persons security: the safety of feeling surrounded by a community for the lonely or the frustration of a noisy neighbour when trying to get to sleep.

As a result I can understand people wanting to impose legislation, although I do not agree, but that is beside the point. No, what really confused me was the Article 52 of the proposed new rules which says that if someone presents a complaint, municipal technicians have to carry out an inspection with measuring equipment within… 15 days!

That would have to be one hell of an echo!

Failure to measure within 15 days means the person can present an unattended denuncia to the Provincial Environment Delegation, and if found guilty of noise pollution the fines will be between €60 and €300,000

All sounds (sorry about that pun) a little bizarre to me, but nowhere near as bizarre as the detail in the legislation that means that fire, police and ambulances must now have a mechanism that will reduce the volume of the warning sirens at night and in built up areas. That is right, as the emergency services rush to saves lives through a busy built up area with increased risks of accidents, they have to turn down the devices they use to warn people!

Oh and a word of warning to the many bar, cafe and restaurant owners across Spain, noise from bar terraces is now included in the legislation, which they say is also being drawn up across a number of other regions across Spain i.e Madrid, Cataluña and Castilla y Leon. All cities with a population over 250,000 (16 of them by the way, in case that comes up in a pub quiz) have had to draw up acoustic maps to show the noisy areas, a requirement which will be extended to towns with a population over 100,000, and acoustic maps for these places must be presented in 2012.

By Chris Marshall

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