News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week December 4th to December 10th 2003.
Government acts to stamp out excessive noise
By David Eade
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT HAS ACTED TO STAMP OUT EXCESSIVE NOISE BY ISSUING A NEW NOISE PROTECTION LAW FOR THE COSTA DEL SOL
The law will be adopted by all town halls within the next year and establishes new norms to combat noise generated by traffic, major industries and leisure facilities.
Environment minister, Fuensanta Coves, explained that the new decree will intervene in town planning regulations. Noise maps will be applied in all municipalities of over 20,000 people, which Sra Coves admitted were 'especially noisy', this being the case of the majority of the Costa del Sol coastal towns.
However, municipalities of more than 250,000 people would have until 2007 to provide a map of noise whilst those with more than 100,000 residents have until 2009 to comply.
NOISE MAPS FOR COSTA TOWNS
These maps would divide the land of each municipality into five types of zones by acoustic sensitivity showing the maximum level of decibels permitted in each zone. The quietest zones would be in areas where hospitals, educational or cultural centres are located whilst the noisiest would be occupied by major roads or motorways, airports or open-air events.
Noise levels in each zone should not go above the permitted level, therefore the town hall would not be able to approve a licence to build a school, which is the lowest noise level, close to a busy motorway, which has the highest noise rating. In addition, all opening licences for new businesses would have to be examined to determine whether their activity was in line with the noise levels for that zone.
Seventy-seven per cent of citizens of Andalucía identified traffic noise as being the major menace. Now local police officers will be obliged to confiscate any vehicle that exceeds the noise limits. Scooters and motorbikes are the worst offenders and under this new decree the two-wheel vehicles would be confiscated and their owners fined. The bike would only be released when the noise defect had been corrected.
Town halls would be empowered to prohibit the loading and unloading of goods between the sleeping hours of 23.00 and 7.00 if the noise levels were above 55 decibels. Leisure zones such as late night bars, discos and restaurants would be prohibited from exceeding the 90 decibels level.