SoundScapeIssue 0247A mild mannered man with an indulgence for renovating and racing classic Minis, John Sibson, noise control expert and senior environmental services officer at Wandsworth Council, is not adverse to making some noise - he just knows how to keep the neighbours happy. Chair of Mini Owners, London & Surrey branch, and organiser of the annual London to Brighton race, Sibson has a flair for calm communication and managing challenging logistics. Qualities which made him the obvious choice for spearheading the first Silent ApproachT delivery programme in the UK.Minis safely immobilized in the workshop, and working strictly within the remit of the law, Sibson's meticulous management of equipment and manpower during Wandsworth's night time delivery scheme was not unlike the vigilance and precision planning required by his counterpart in the classic British movie, The Italian Job. The premise may have seemed unfeasible but somehow the master plan worked like clockwork. For Sibson at least, there was no cliff hanger ending, just a well stocked store and happy residents. We caught up with Sibson on a sunny afternoon in Brighton to ask him what it takes to be a local hero.How are people affected by noise?Everyone is aware of the health dangers of being exposed to loud or needless noise, and most people, when they are subjected to it, just get angry. Loud TVs, car alarms, careless deliveries and construction works are all regular complaints for our team. However, some people live in fear and deep distress as they feel they are exposed to unacceptable levels of noise, and in these cases our job is to support them by listening and adding context to their noise annoyance.What projects are you particularly proud to have been involved with?In 2008, Wandsworth Council initiated, with the help of the NAS, a 12-week Silent ApproachT trial with a local branch of
SoundScapeIssue 02 48It is rare that one is given the opportunity to change entrenched habits - being a part of Silent ApproachT really cemented for me the belief that with time, effort and creativity, we can solve many of our environmental challengesFiona Churchill, 2011Sainsbury's. I was the appointed lead officer and was excited at the prospect of being able to make real local and environmental changes. I knew we had regular complaints from residents living as close as nine metres from the store and realised that the investment on my behalf would mean independently monitoring the night time deliveries in my own time. I am proud to report that there were no complaints during the trial period (nor have there been any since) and that with the proper supervision and training we managed to secure night time deliveries for that store going forward. Sainsbury's are delighted with it and have measured the environmental and cost benefits. I also know that there is now less traffic and congestion in that area at busier times of day and residents are benefitting from quieter days and better stocked shelves.It is rare that one is given an opportunity to change entrenched habits and be proactive. Being a part of Silent ApproachT really cemented for me the belief that with time, effort and creativity, we can solve many of our environmental challenges. I still get calls today about the scheme from other Local Authorities, and have been gratified to see how successful other wards have been with it.What is your first memory of working in noise abatement?I remember being called to a large housing estate to disable the alarm on a brand new Porsche. Having served notice on the owner I arranged for a contractor to tow the car away and there must have been 70 people on their balconies cheering and clapping. That was a powerful thing for me to feel and a great way of seeing how many appreciated our work. What do you do on your days off?By sharp contrast, my days off are normally pretty noisy! Most of my time is spent renovating my Minis, powering up the drill and angle grinder in the garage workshop.