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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

dwellings and parties. In the majority of cases, callers felt that these issues were attributable to poor insulation within dwellings.40% of complaints about building noise (representing the quality of construction) within the neighbour noise category were about noisy flooring and poor insulation with callers citing poor building and construction standards, including doors that slam.85% of complaints about animal noise for the period 2006-2010 were in relation to barking dogs. It can be suggested that this was primarily due to poor training and management by owners and carers.Excessively loud music is responsible for the overwhelming majority of noise complaints about pubs, clubs and bars. One third of the way into 2011, the number of complaints in this category is at 66% of the number for the whole of 2010, suggesting that this type of noise nuisance is becoming more prevalent. Outdoor noise complaints have doubled from 2006 to 2010 and now account for 16% of calls to the Helpline. Noise from building contractors, bird scarers and off road quad and motorbikes scored high amongst complaints within the category. This emphasises the distress and annoyance caused by mechanical sounds to increasing numbers of the public.Opportunity to enhance public wellbeing and amenitySetting aside antisocial behaviour and deliberate attempts to disturb, the recurring themes throughout all of these findings are of noise disturbances exacerbated and made unbearable by poor insulation between dwellings, poor urban planning (including surfaces of roads and buildings), ill thought through development, relative to the acoustics, of purpose built premises; and annoyance caused by manmade (mechanical) sounds, for example from road noise and machinery.In the cases of complaints about neighbour noise, people going about their daily lives make noise, however the effects on neighbours are compounded by poorly applied and/or ineffectual building and construction standards, including doors that slam, inadequate insulation and noisy flooring. Regarding road noise, the use of quieter road surfaces, the modification of building fascias and hard surfaces, and the erection of noise barriers or structures that recycle noise, as well as other quieting measures are essential requirements if continuing unnecessary disturbance to residents, especially in densely populated urban environments, is to be reduced.An interesting overall observation is the consistency of the types of complaints received year on year over the period from 2006 to present. This indicates potential areas for clear 'wins' and the potential to positively affect the wellbeing and amenity of residents across the United Kingdom should action be taken. While it may, of course, be difficult for a noise sufferer to distinguish between unreasonable behaviour and poor structure, Helpline complaints reflect callers' expectations about what is acceptabl. The main reason we lie awake at night is because of alcohol in our streetsNoise 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. There is great opportunity to take action to repair existing problems and prevent further proliferation of bad practices and poor urban planning. It is this prospect that should provide impetus to policy makers and hope to the public.SourcesNoise tops list of 10 million neighbour complaints, finds Which? 16 June 2011; http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/press/press-releases/product-press-releases/which-legal-service/2011/06/noise-tops-list-of-10-million-neighbour-complaints-finds-which/ Accessed 30 June 2011SoundScapeIssue 0208The scream of sirens has become the backdrop to our lives