N Touch
Monday 20 August 2018
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Making noise

Noise pollution management requires a balance between firm enforcement of the law, reasonable dialogue and consideration for the people who are affected.

Instead of quarrelling with one another every year, we need to listen.

It may well be true – as Carnival events guru Dean Akin has argued – that the current decibel restrictions in the provisions governing the Environmental Management Authority are impractical. However, that is no justification for any flouting of the law, particularly in situations where licences have been granted on the assurance that certain limits will be adhered too.

The deeper issue is the need for a revision of the current laws relating to sound pollution, land use and the granting of permission for one-off events, whether during Carnival or otherwise.

Several things are notable about the events which reportedly unfolded at the Stumped fete in Woodbrook on Saturday. It is not ideal for any fete to be held in the middle of a residential area as was the case here.

But the authorities are rightly judicious in how they apply the relevant laws.

When a licence is granted in a residential area, certain stipulations are set to minimise damage and protect residents. Decibel levels and time constraints are among them. Once such conditions are set, they must be strictly adhered to. There should be no room for disagreement or misunderstanding.

If conditions are violated, then warnings should be issued, culminating in the relevant enforcement action.

Often a licence is hard-won, and organisers would do well to ensure they are vigilant in adhering to the conditions that have allowed them to operate in a given area in the first place.

Part of that vigilance should come from self-monitoring, as well as respect for the authority of officers of the EMA who are able to provide advice in real time.

If there is a feeling that decibel levels are too low and that this is inimical to the well-being of Carnival, then that is a matter to be taken up not on the floor of an event or in its immediate aftermath, but with local authorities, constituency representatives, the EMA itself as well as licensing committees. And well before Carnival.

Licensing committees also need to have all the information possible when coming to a decision, not just submissions made before them.

The current decibel levels may be justifiable. Or they may be questionable.

Either way, all sides need to listen to one another, but they must do so well in advance of the noise.


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