by kimberley Cummins
Government has been accused of being “hearing impaired” when it comes to the implementation of legislation on noise pollution.
The accusation has come from President of the Society for a Quieter Barbados, Carl Moore, who said in an interview with Barbados TODAY that the association has had more promises than action.
From his Rock Dundo, Cave Hill, St. Michael home this morning, he said both present and past Governments had made promise after promise but there was still no Noise Abatement Act.
He charged that each election period brought a fresh set of “noise” from political parties as well, but he was not too optimistic that a law would be passed any time soon.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary in December this year, the association is however, crying out once more for legislation to be implemented to regulate noise.
Moore said on previous occasions they had “failed miserably” to convince law makers to implement legislation to fight against the menace but he was not deterred and would continue because it was a necessity.
“You need legislation and you need to enforce legislation. There is no point passing laws then having people flout the laws. The bigger issue is how we are going to live on this little island and how we are going to learn to live with one another?
“We have raised the level of awareness, yes, but we have not got anything to show by way of legislation that would seriously address the problem. There are little skirmishes that are made from time to time which shows that if they wanted to act on certain things they could act on them, but people realise that people are not doing anything so they can do as they like,” he charged.
In June 2004 a report of The National Commission on Law and Order, which was chaired by Sir Roy Marshall wrote: “Noise Pollution: This nuisance has seriously affected the mental health and the physical condition of many citizens and needs to be addressed. In addition, there is almost total disregard for areas identified as ‘quiet zones’ … [A]s far back as 1979, extensive discussions were held on a draft bill covering many of the areas now being complained of, but to date there has been no introduction of the legislation required.”
In June 2005, the Ministry of Housing, Lands and the Environment introduced a National Noise Abatement Discussion and Concept Paper, which stated: “There is no legislation or regulatory standards which would permit the Environment Protection Department to take swift and effective enforcement action. Consequently, the situation often becomes worse until some individuals or establishments are forced to seek redress through the judicial system.”
After this paper was introduced, Moore said the organisation was optimistic that some relief would come for those people in misery due to the excessive noise. In 2006, he said, there was a promise to bring legislation and when implemented people who disobeyed the act could be fined up to $22,000.
“They held a number of meetings and they had reached a stage of a draft bill up to 2007 and it was ready for discussion in Parliament. One always hears that Government is a continuum; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A new government came into office and promised their own bill and we haven’t seen it yet. That was in 2008 and nothing else was done.
“Barbados has gotten noisier. There is no legislation that is tight enough to deal with it. Like I said, there are four different statutes on the book but they are not tight enough. Even with the limited bit of legislation that we have it is not being enforced.
“People are running from noise, people are running from it. Some who have the means are engaging lawyers to deal with it. It has gotten noisier and is getting worse,” he said.
Noise pollution is said to be a health issue as well and Caribbean governments such as Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica have seen the importance and have taken it seriously by implementing legislation to fight it.
“Barbadians are great at adjusting to things and we don’t push back enough so we adjust — settle for this or learn to live and tolerate that, but it has its effects on people physically. About five years ago the Ministry of Education revealed that they surveyed and found about 800 children in the school system with varying degrees of hearing impairment.
“Noise is a very serious thing and we are letting people get away with things when they push the envelope. When it ain’t noise it is emission — the burning of stuff. These are the things that annoy people, and this is one of the reasons that triggered me to launch the SQB,” Moore said. email@example.com