September 27, 2011
Implement Noise Act to deal with noise pollution

Tue, Sept 27. 2011

Recently, the Central Water and Sewage Authority (CWSA) took a bold and very welcome step towards resolving one aspect of environmental pollution. The ‘White Goods’ initiative, as it is called, has helped to rid our backyards of a lot of unwanted appliances which had become an environmental hazard. No praise can be too high for the CWSA for taking this bold step.{{more}}

There are, however, other polluting aspects of our environment which deserve equally urgent attention. One such area, virtually screaming out for attention, is that of noise pollution. This is a problem which has been with us for a number of years, and which has gone completely out of control. We have had problems with this before, especially noise emanating from fetes and ‘block-os’, which had caused the Mitchell government, in 1988, to institute a Noise Act, piloted by then Attorney General, Parnel Campbell. This is now incorporated into the Revised Laws of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, 2009, Chapter 389.

In spite of such existing legislation, noise pollution has continued unabated and there are new threats to the peace and quiet of the society. In fact, today, the nuisance arises not only from music from entertainment events such as ‘block-os’, but also from vehicles, blaring music at a decibel level enough to deafen even the hearing impaired. It is as if we have become victims of our own “success”, showing off how much noise we can get our music sets to generate. Add to this, the growing practice among motor enthusiasts to equip their vehicles with extra exhaust equipment, designed to be as loud as possible, and you get a picture of the scale of the threat.

Even though we are experiencing this problem, and complaints have been increasing from citizens, little action has been taken to arrest the problem. What is the point of having legislation on our books, if it is not being enforced?

Last week, the architect of the Noise Act, distinguished Queen’s Counsel, Mr. P.R.Campbell, delivered a most enlightening lecture to police officers on the Act. This was broadcast live on radio, thereby permitting the general public to avail themselves of that body of knowledge. It was another act of service to the community by Mr. Campbell, the presenter of the invaluable “Law and You” series on television, who also did yeoman work during the constitutional review process.

Now that Mr. Campbell has both made us aware of our rights under the law, and brought the law-enforcement officers up to date on their responsibilities, one looks forward to urgent and firm action by the police to ensure that wilful violations of the rights of citizens and blatant disregard for peace and quiet are brought to an end. Just as citizens have the right to enjoy music of their choice, that right must be exercised in the context of respect for the rights and comfort of others.