The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has today launched its flagship Noise Survey, which, in England and Wales, provides the only source of information on the vital contribution made by environmental health professionals working to resolve noise complaints from the public.
The launch is in conjunction with Noise Action Week, which runs 24-29 May 2021, to raise awareness of unhealthy noise and the impact it has on people’s physical and mental health.
2020 has been a year unlike any other, with large numbers of people suddenly moving to working or studying from home. With restaurants, pubs, museums and leisure premises being closed, people have had to find ways to occupy themselves at home. Many local authorities reported that they have received more domestic complaints during the initial lockdown period, as neighbours began to do DIY, whilst others were trying to do virtual meetings and juggle home schooling. Residential complaints made up by far the biggest proportion of noise complaints to local authorities in previous years. However, to make matters worse, construction working hours were extended by the UK Government last year, from a 6pm finish on weekdays and 1pm on Saturdays to 9pm finish, Monday to Saturday.
Supported by Cirrus Research and the Noise Abatement Society, this year’s survey will seek to answer the question of how both the public and local authorities have coped with noise issues during the past year. The data is due to be shared with Public Health England and published early next year.
COVID-19 has also affected environmental health teams, with as many as 8 out of 10 Environmental Health Practitioners being redeployed by their local authority during the course of the pandemic. Higher numbers of complaints may have therefore put additional pressure on smaller teams trying to cope with the pandemic and provide the community with this essential service.
Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager at CIEH, said:
“This past year has forced a sudden change in people’s habits whilst at the same time testing local authorities’ resources, as they responded to the pandemic. These shifts also changed patterns of noise and noise disturbance in the home as people adjusted to working from home. Noise has a significant impact on health, productivity and quality of life for many people. That is why it is important to raise the profile of this issue and the amount of work done by environmental health professionals to resolve noise complaints, especially under these unprecedented times.”
Benjamin Fenech, Group Leader at Public Health England, said:
“Neighbour and neighbourhood noise is an important determinant of public health. The CIEH noise survey provides the only publicly-available comprehensive source of information on noise complaints in England and PHE uses this dataset as part of the Public Health Outcomes Framework. These noise indicators are routinely used at a national and local level to demonstrate the importance of noise as a public health problem and the vital contribution made by Environmental Health Practitioners working to resolve noise issues. Therefore, it is very important that as many Local Authorities as possible respond to the CIEH noise survey.”
Daren Wallis, Chief Executive Officer at Cirrus Research plc, said:
“Neighbourhood and community noise is one of the biggest areas of focus for us at Cirrus Research as the long-lasting physical and mental health implications it can have are deeply concerning. We’ve been working with local authorities and environmental health officers for more than 10 years, supplying intuitive and easy-to-use equipment to make the investigation and resolution of noise nuisance complaints effortless.
“We have a long-standing history of researching noise, its effects, and how we can innovate solutions to make it easier to safeguard against it. We are incredibly proud to be supporting the CIEH’s noise survey and we hope that by doing so, we can help raise awareness of noise and its effects.”
Gloria Elliott OBE, Chief Executive at Noise Abatement Society, said:
“Noise is a major nuisance and pollutant that seriously affects people’s health and wellbeing. The CIEH noise survey provides valuable evidence that noise profoundly adversely impacts our quality of life, productivity and the peaceful enjoyment of our homes. In the discussion about how we build back better after the pandemic, noise must not be forgotten. We want to see good acoustic design embedded in all development and the way noise is abated to enhance the lives of people.”