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Noise Submission

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Noise Submission Powered By Docstoc
					Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




                Noise Pollution Submission
Due to time constraints only certain items were selected and addressed, please find
submission discussion following:
The method of research used was through focus groups and one to one interviews with
homeowners in the Dublin 15 area. Discussion and examples following are based on
actual events. I have been careful to choose common actual events and have avoided
referring to cases that would be considered ‘a rare experience’. My discussion ends with
recommendations in each section.

A4: Planning and Building Legislation
The legislation appears to be reasonable, however in real terms it is not practical.

Example: Actual event.
    2004 - November: Ongar Village estate finished and sold
    2005: Residents begin to write letters to Management Company, agent and
     developers regarding sound proofing problem. Residents are advised that their
     neighbouring dwelling may be breaching the lease by having wood or tiled
     flooring. Residents are told to investigate this themselves or the management
     agent will inquire on their behalf. This can be a lengthy process. In many cases,
     homes had their floors replaced with carpet and lino because of noise complaints.
     The final result made little or absolutely no difference to the noise pollution.
    2006: Residents pursue noise from adjoining apartment with local T.D’s and the
     local authority, in this case Fingal Co. Council.
     Those home owners affected by the problem are becoming frustrated, stressed and
     in some cases ill from consistent and excessive noise from adjoining apartments.
     Some sell their property and others move out and rent, leaving a small portion of
     affected homeowners left to continue the grievance.
    2007: Agreement by the council to investigate and sound test dwellings.
    2008 – May: Because of costs, only 6 dwellings are actually tested. Two
     townhouses, which had complaints of the neighbouring dwelling and 4
     apartments, which had complaints of the dwelling above them. All complaints
     were described as impact noise.

1 apartment failed.
1 townhouse had a buckled wall where the stairs of both dwellings joined to the
same wall.

The testing was conducted with the flooring, furnishing and sound proofing material
already installed.

Normally sound tests are conducted after buildings are complete BEFORE any flooring
and furnishing. The legislation requirements for decibels are based on bare buildings.



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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008



It would be fair to suggest: that if all the 6 dwellings were tested at completion of
building, before flooring and furnishing then perhaps more would not have passed the
legislative requirements.

This was pointed out to Fingal Co. Council (FCC) and the builders.

     2008 – October 31: The apartment from the above testing group that did not
      meet legislative requirements had remedial work by the original developers.
      The builders ripped up the carpet from the above dwelling and installed sound
      proofing absorbent material on top of the original chip wood flooring. No
      investigation to the area between the floating floors was conducted.
      The problem exists between a ground floor apartment and the above duplex
      apartment. The design is a timber floating floor.
      The technical guidance document E, advises this type of flooring is the most
      resilient to ‘sound proofing’ problems.

The owner maintains, the noise is still horrific! And there seems to be very little if any
difference.

If the technical document E is correct, we must ask these questions:

    1. Why did the dwelling mentioned above not meet the very basic ‘db’
       requirements?
    2. Why did FCC not order a thorough investigation and if they did, why was it not
       done?
    3. When the sound proof testing was conducted in May 2008 and 2 dwellings were
       red flagged, Ongar Community Council (OCC) and owners of these properties
       were excluded from any further meetings with FCC and the builders, Manor Park
       Homes. Emails were sent to FCC staff/councillors and D15 local T.D’s
       requesting their assistance not to be excluded from meetings and to be included in
       the decision making for works in there homes, but these requests went un replied.
    4. What can be done to prevent any person from suffering the same drawn out ordeal
       to prove their apartment dose not have reasonable sound proofing?
    5. Why is there no complaints procedure which allows this builder to be fully
       investigated and the owners ‘plaintiffs’ be informed and advised of results?
    6. Why was the sound testing carried out without ripping the flooring up. The extra
       flooring and furniture absorb sound, promoting a ‘cheating’ affect with the sound
       tests results i.e. the sound tests will have better results if it’s done when dwellings
       have interior flooring laid.
    7. What new procedures and timelines will be implemented for those who have
       homes that do not meet regulations?

FCC advised sound testing can be carried out again to check if the failed apartment will
now meet spec according to the Technical Guidance Document E.




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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008



If apartments are sub standard, there may be other factors causing failure to meet
standards, such as sub standard material, poor workmanship and so on. These should be
thoroughly investigated before work is continued. It is extremely concerning that the
work conducted on the apartment that failed sound testing consisted of ripping up carpet
and laying sound proofing absorbent material on top of the chip wood floor. The floors
should have been ripped up and the builders should have a suitable reason to why the
dwellings did not meet regulations.
.
Homebond:
An insurance company that covers ‘all’ foreseeable problems with domestic dwellings
should be used and legislation should be passed with this in mind. Home bond are not
the insurance company for the above estate. Premier is and they do not cover sound
proofing items.

My recommendations:

    1. Legislation that efficiently deals and answers the questions asked above.
    2. A clear complaints process with timeline guides.
    3. Legislation outlining penalties for breaching timelines.
    4. Introduce initiative to insure insurance companies cover ‘all’ areas in the Building
       Regulations Technical Guidance Document.
    5. Introduce clear instructions to how sound proofing should be tested and fixed.
    6. Introduce funding through local authorities to cover homeowners with inadequate
       soundproofing, so that the home owner may have an independent builder fix sub
       standard soundproofing in a timely manner. Local authorities can seek damages
       off the builder or payment in kind for other council initiatives.
    7. There needs to be a system put in place to aid those homeowners who purchased
       sub standard properties in the boom. It is proactive to change legislation for the
       future, but we can not abandon the many tax paying Irish working and middle
       class who are now stranded with a home that in some cases has destroyed their
       health due to sound proofing inadequacies. An initiative for the builders to reflect
       and repair problem dwellings should be enforced.

Ongar Community Council has begun to actively deal with this problem by introducing
to its community Irelands first ‘Sound Proofing Committee’ SPC. I will be chairing
this committee and we will be raising awareness in the coming months to build our
members and then we will actively be tackling the issues at hand and will be lobbying for
assistance from the Minister of Environment to resolve all sound proofing complaints. If
this fails we will pursue our rights through the E.U.

Important Notes:
It would be extremely unfair to introduce higher ‘db’s for sound proofing in new
buildings. If this is done, the government has effectively made every homeowner or
investor’s property redundant.




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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




A7: Antisocial Behaviour
It is clear and understandable legislation, however seeking a resolve to grievances seems
to be a formidable ordeal. This may be because the wrong government organisations
have the powers to resolve domestic antisocial behaviour.

My research and own problems related to this item are noted below:

Diary of Anti social behaviour with tenant from above property

     March 2008 I contacted the tenant to advise noise levels.
     2 weeks later I contacted the tenant again.
     2 weeks later I contacted the tenant again.
     1 month later I contacted the management agent.
     No news so I researched the management company listing and contacted
      landlords.
     I proceeded to send correspondence, with no suitable out come.
     4 months have now passed and I contact the local authority, which did not reply,
      so I contacted them again. They sent me a form to fill out and take to the district
      court in the Four Courts, Dublin City.

I did not go further but researched another resident on my estate that did go further.
This lady paid her money to the courts to process her noise application.
The first date to court was set, bearing in mind she had already conducted a similar
process to mine above and 6 months had gone by before she decided to take court action.
On her first date in court, she turned up with out a solicitor (she could not afford one).
The judge made reference that she ‘should have a solicitor’.
The landlords of the ‘problem tenants’ did not show, so the case date had to be referred.
This happened a second time, once again referring the court date.
Her complaints process for antisocial neighbours started in June 2007. Today, October
2008 it is still un-resolved and no ruling has been issued from the courts.

Discussion:

It is unreasonable to expect single women who live alone, be subjected to antisocial
behaviour from neighbours for lengthy periods. Every case of antisocial tenants has more
then two people residing in the ‘problem dwelling’ and in many cases this includes
males.

In the cases I researched for this submission, the plaintiffs were either single females
living alone or families.

And all the problem dwellings contained tenants not homeowners. The landlords in each
case were not pro-active about resolving the issues. This was partly due to landlords


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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008



being on the Rental Accommodation Scheme or in some way receiving money from the
health services instead of the actual tenants.

The information provided on government websites outlines the basic procedure of
informing neighbours of the disturbance they are causing. We must take into account this
process may take around 6 months before it goes to a district court, more if landlords and
managing agents are involved. It is therefore unreasonable for district courts to take over
1 year to make judgement on the situation. Extending the ordeal for a plaintiff well into a
2nd year.

Gardai:
Currently gardai have the power to request noisy tenants to lower noise, however my role
as the chairperson of Ongar Community Council has provided experience working with
both Lucan and Blanchardstown Gardai. The gardai themselves do not like dealing with
this type of request; they feel they have no powers and they will advise you of this. Any
complaints of noisy neighbours would be recorded as a low priority, there fore in many
situations, particularly the weekend; the gardai may never attend the call.

Managing Agents and Managing Companies:
At this stage, there is new legislation hovering around these two bodies that should be in
place in the near future. Some management agents have dealt with antisocial behaviour
effectively and others have not. Where the lands are still in the possession of the
developers, is where the plaintiff has little powers to enforce managing agents to act on
their behalf because the managing agents are employed by the developers and not the
members of the management company. For this reason alone, it is unreasonable to direct
responsibility to managing agents and management companies. When the legislation
with management companies is less grey, this can be re-visited as a possible avenue to
resolve antisocial behaviour from tenants in a private estate.

Recommendations:

    1. A quicker process in the courts.
    2. Implementation of penalties to defendants that do not appear for two consecutive
       court dates.
    3. Marketing campaign raising public awareness to any new legislation for this area.
    4. More Power to the Gardai to arrest domestic anti-social behaviour. This approach
       is common internationally.
    5. A complaints process against landlords who do not resolve problems with
       antisocial tenants, which are on a Rental accommodation scheme or where the
       landlord is receiving rent from the Health Services Board instead of their tenants.
    6. The tenancy residential board only handle complaints for paying tenants. There is
       currently no organisation in place that deals with homeowners that are antisocial.
       One must go through the lengthy court process.
    7. All complaint processes to have a resolve timeline not more then 12months.
    8. Free counselling for both defendants and plaintiffs on the affects of noise
       pollution to ones health.



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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




Further recommendations for both sections covered in this submission:

    1. Free information and counselling for those affected by noise pollution cause by
       sub standard housing or antisocial behaviour.
    2. A recognised disability pension or allowance for those who have lost their jobs
       over health problems directly or indirectly caused by noise pollution from sub
       standard housing and anti-social behaviour.
    3. Tougher penalties for perpetrators of noise pollution – a criminal record.
    4. Funding for an aggressive marketing campaign raising public awareness to the
       detrimental affects noise pollution has on health.
    5. Awareness raised in the medical field of how to treat those affected by noise
       pollution.
    6. Free services related to the treatment of health problems directly or indirectly
       caused by noise pollution from sub standard housing and anti-social behaviour.
    7. For those offenders of noise pollution to loose there right to housing with the
       rental accommodation scheme and the health services board.


Further discussions.

In a time of economic uncertainty we must reflect on areas that have been overlooked and
severely miss-understood. Noise pollution from sub standard housing and antisocial
behaviour causes health problems, both physical and mental. It can affect people’s
ability to work, live and develop within their community.
It is not a difficult item to address nor is it difficult to control with the right legislation
and support lines.
As a society, we must continue to educate children, teens and adults on the serious nature
of noise pollution caused by antisocial behaviour.

In common law, people have a right to a quality of life. This is a fundamental right,
which has not been given to so many Irish residents of today.

Education to ‘apartment living’ both in the building complex and in the communal
gardens is an absolute must.
It is becoming clear that people do not know how to behave in built up communities.




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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




Antisocial Behaviour from the public in private estate
gardens:
This area is not covered in the noise consultation paper.

There is a clear lack of understanding with how to deal with this problem with residents,
local authorities, politicians and gardai.

Following is an actual event, again in the estate of Ongar, however, through my extensive
community work within the D15 area, I am aware this is a wide spread problem that
needs an urgent resolve.

Actual Event:
    2006: The private communal garden in Ongar Village, which consists of a
       fountain, weeping willows and other trees, that home many birds and give
       protection to fauna, is being abused by many unsupervised children.
       Very young children are left there to play unsupervised during the day and during
       the evening teenagers from all over north Dublin appear.
       Footballs a belted into the thin stem branches, tormenting birds and other fauna,
       rocks and loose material from the fountain is removed by youth and thrown into
       ground floor apartments walls and windows, setting off alarms.
       The noise being made by the youth is considerable and a serious noise pollution
       problem for residents living in this area.
    2006 May – December: The fountain is ruined and broken from antisocial
       behaviour, the communal chairs are damaged and graffiti, then removed from the
       area. Much correspondence and meetings with the estates management agents,
       FCC parks department, local politicians and the developers are held to express
       concerns.
       The Minister for Environment, Mr. John Gormly is contacted and advises his D15
       Green Party Representative, Roderic O’Gorman that he can not overrule local
       authority planning.
    2007: Complaints continue to be sent to all parties listed in previous paragraph.
       The fountain is still broken and unsightly; chairs will not be returned to the area.
       Antisocial behaviour is still causing serious noise pollution for residents in this
       area and damage to flora and fauna continues. Photos are taken and sent to the
       management agent, the developers and FCC, with no reply. Lucan gardai are
       requested to many resident association meetings and advise they will increase
       patrols. The Gardai Superintendent advises us to ‘engage the youth’. In a Joint
       Policing Committee (JPC) meeting held in Fingal, it was suggested and agreed
       that residents should engage youth to prevent antisocial behaviour in their
       communal gardens. When I asked the superintendent of Lucan, how this can be
       done with antisocial teens from all over Dublin north, who present themselves as
       aggressive and rebellious, no strategy was offered.




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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




     2008: By this time the residents have had meetings with every politician in D15
      to request aid in seeking a resolve. Five homeowners of dwellings that back onto
      the fountain communal garden have given up the battle and moved on, renting
      their apartments.
     2008 – October: Meeting scheduled with senior parks department staff member
      from FCC. He advises that no railings will be installed, regardless of who pays
      for them. He offers no solution to the resolve with noise pollution that is
      subjected to residents on a day to day basis. The parks department advise Ongar
      Residents and other community activist from the D15 area that when open spaces
      are developed, then the problem of antisocial behaviour in the small private
      communal gardens will cease. Ruairi O’Douling, FCC parks division, advises
      railings are an Irish solution to an Irish problem.

Discussion:

The above is an illustration of a problem that is widespread throughout Dublin 15 and
perhaps the rest of Ireland.

Rauiri’s comment of an Irish solution to an Irish problem is stunning! Antisocial
behaviour in private communal gardens is a global problem, with the global solution
being security gates and CCTV. FCC ideology of developing open spaces to tackle
problems of antisocial behaviour is equally stunning and in our economic crisis is
considerable concerning.

Anti-social behaviour is a form of rebellion. Its existence stems from a wide range of
emotional needs. This includes the development of young criminal minds to youth that
have mental problems.

Current legislation dose not cover residents private communal gardens. Where residents
own their lands, they still must apply to the local authorities planning department and
parks division for planning permission. For estates, which have lands still under the
ownership of the developers, the residents are absolutely powerless to resolve this item.

The current design in most estates is ‘open’ ‘private’ communal gardens, which in itself
is an oxymoron! A paradox! These gardens are being used and abused by the public; in
the process it is causing considerable noise pollution to residents. This is preventing
communities from growing. It promotes home owners to move out of their homes and
increases the rental ratio in any given community.

If the minister for environment can not overrule planning decisions from local authorities
because they breach noise pollution legislation, then we should all be very concerned.




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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




Internationally:

In other countries, where the police or government bodies have not acted on social crisis
such as noise pollution from antisocial behaviour, gangs and crime have flourished.
History will confirm that if you leave the people to ‘fend for themselves’ they may do so
by forming gangs. In areas such as Ongar and other D15 areas, where there are many
different cultures, it would be reasonable to assume any gangs formed could be racial;
they will assume members of their own colour, creed and race. This may have a domino
affect on the rest of Ireland.

I have heavily researched this in Australian communities, which I am originally from.
Like Ireland, Australia went through a rapid influx of immigration. Unlike Ireland this
happened in the 1980’s. 15 years later, major cities, such as Sydney had establish racial
gangs which were formed from communities. These gangs grew in strength and power in
their own communities, where there was a clear lack of local authority interest and police
resources. By the mid 1990’s these gangs where shooting innocent people in the streets
to publicly express their lawlessness and formidable presence to different race gangs,
which in affect where different communities. Each gang represented a different
community. The below link is just one example of many similar incidents that stem from
‘community grown gangs’.
http://anti-state.com/forum/index.php?board=2;action=display;threadid=15487

A simple item like railings not being implemented to protect residents from noise
pollution caused by antisocial behaviour from members of the greater Dublin area, this
can in time, is a devastating social blow on any community.

It is clear that FCC parks department are not experienced enough to understand this basic
social science. This illustrates further that the powers to change or enforce rulings to aid
in noise pollution within communities should not be given to local authorities.

The science research in the above scenario is simply a matter of history repeating itself.
If communities are left to uphold their fundamental right to be free of noise pollution,
which is caused by antisocial behaviour from people outside their community, then
history clearly illustrates, those of the same race will join together and this will encourage
younger members of the community to form gangs. We must bear in mind that noise
pollution will never be a sole event with antisocial behaviour. Other activities
accompany noise pollution such as; vandalism and petty crime.

Apart from this very real prospect, The Minister of Environment has an obligation to
enforce the noise pollution legislation.

We are all still waiting for this assistance.



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Samantha Dooley, Chairperson OCC: chairperson.orac@ongar-residents.com or www.ongar-residents.com 31/10/2008




FCC has approached our community council to invite us into a pilot program, which will
cover the problems for new estates and provide links with key local authority staff. We
should have a committee up and running shortly and hope to tackle to problem of lack of
action from FCC with noise pollution complaints.

Recommendations:

    1. There needs to be an immediate change of legislation in regards to local
       authorities having powers with noise pollution in private estate’s communal
       gardens, where the solution requires planning permission.
    2. Many residents that have private communal gardens close to their homes have
       suffered an incredible disturbance from noise pollution caused by antisocial
       behaviour for many years now. Residents deserve an immediate resolve. Rails
       should be implemented in communal gardens that currently suffer from excessive
       noise pollution. These railings should be installed by developers, if the lands
       have not been handed over to members and in the case of residents being in
       ownership of lands, there should be a negotiation process to receive funding aid
       from the local authority.
    3. Education in social science, particularly anti-social behaviour, will case studies,
       should be arranged for senior members of local authorities.
    4. Gardai, who are educated and experienced in antisocial behaviour, should take on
       all powers relating to antisocial behaviour in private estates, regardless if it is
       domestic or communal. Gardai have already progressed in this area with
       community garda. Further powers and development to the garda will provide a
       safer environment for communities and will increase the people’s confidence in
       our gardai.
    5. Mandatory legislation to enforce all management companies to include actions for
       the resolve of noise pollution in their development to be set out in their
       memorandums and articles of association.
    6. The pilot program being organised by Peter Caulfield, head of corporate affairs of
       FCC, should be furnished with powers to enforce agreed actions at committee
       meetings.

Noise Pollution from clubs and pubs
Reducing the hours of clubs and pubs is a huge mistake. This will only promote noise
pollution and anti-social behaviour within communities.
In most countries clubs are open to 6am, with some clubs continuing through the day.
We should not oppress people’s right to rebel, to drink and express themselves. The
clubs offer a place for people to do this. If this is taken away, we can expect increasing
tension in communities from all night parties.
The minister needs to research internationally and implement a successful model into
Ireland’s nightlife.
The reduction of club hours has also caused employment loss.


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