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The Noise Abatement Society was established in 1959 to raise awareness of, and find solutions to, noise pollution. Its work helps to relieve the physical and mental distress and ill health caused by noise which profoundly affects public health, productivity, and the quality of all life. One of the Society's chief methods of maintaining contact with the public, to hear concerns, to offer support and encourage positive action, is via its National Noise Helpline (the Helpline). The Society has always had similar forms of discourse, originally through dissemination of ideas and feedback via local community groups, such as the Women's Institute; through active dialogue with its members over the years; and, since 2006, primarily via the Helpline.The data collected during complaint calls to the Helpline are collated and analysed by category of complaint, UK region and some of the callers' circumstances. The numeric data does not fully express the human cost of noise nuisance, or the acute level of distress some complainants are experiencing when they call. The Helpline aims to assist those who may feel there is no one else to turn to and who need impartial advice, or simply an understanding ear, regarding the noise issues they are facing.Scale of the problemThe National Noise Helpline was established in 2006 and operated originally Monday through Friday during normal working hours. Since April 2010 it has been operational 24/7. The Helpline has never been widely advertised and has always provided free, confidential and impartial support and advice. It has received approximately 3,000 calls to date. The fact that callers to the Helpline have had to search out and find a little known resource in their attempt to find help and answers, gives weight to their experience.I am a prisoner in my own home because of noise. I've been in floods of tears and want to move houseThe scale of the problem is further underpinned in a recent survey by Which? that found that "at least five million people are currently annoyed with their neighbours, and over 10 million have had a neighbour problem in the last year."The survey polled "2,561 British adults aged 16+ from 10-16 May 2011 about their experiences with annoying neighbours currently, and in the last 12 months. 31% of people are currently annoyed, or have been annoyed with their neighbours in the past year. Which? estimates 10% of GB 16+ adults are currently experiencing problems with neighbours. Based on a GB 16+ population of 48.8 million, this equates to between 4.4 and 5.5 million people (using a 95% confidence interval)."Key findingsWhen callers ring the Helpline they are asked a series of questions to help determine context about their situation. Callers do not have to answer any of the questions asked of them, but they are encouraged to do so for research purposes. Generally, callers are very cooperative and willing to share their burden in the hope that their voice will be heard and have a wider impact to help others. Some of the key findings from analysis of the Helpline data show that:London and the South East accounted for more than 40% of overall call volume year on year. When normalised, this represents approximately 60% of complaints received when population distribution is taken into account for the period 2006-2010. This pattern has been maintained into 2011 showing remarkable consistency by complainants. The largest category of complaints for the period 2006-2010 was neighbour noise, the proportion of which increased from 34% of calls in 2006 to 53% in 2010 and 51% January-April 2011. 49% of complaints to the Helpline about neighbour noise for the periods 2006-2010 and 47% of calls January-April 2011 were about general living noise including normal social interaction between inhabitants of SoundScape highlights the stress, distress and loss of control noise sufferers feel, as documented by the NAS' National Noise HelplineSound numbers breaching the peaceSoundScapeIssue 0206

SoundScapeIssue 0207Noise pollution blights the lives of a large percentage of the UK's population, however, a vast majority of its impacts can be attenuated at source. The opportunity to take action to repair existing problems and prevent further proliferation of bad practices and poor urban planning is a prospect that should provide impetus to policy makers and hope to the publicThe enraged musician by William Hogarth, 1741