Crackdown vowed on noise pollution
Just seven people were prosecuted for noise pollution in Northern Ireland last year, it can be revealed.
Even though more than 12,000 complaints were made and over 650 fines and official warnings were handed out there was a 42% drop in the number of people brought to court over the issue.
Noisy neighbours' loud music, television, parties and animals accounted for most of the complaints (82%) with householders in Strabane, Ballymena and Craigavon among the worst offenders.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he was committed to tackling the problem.
He said: "Noise is a very serious issue. It can seriously affect human health and well-being and can interfere with our daily lives at school, at work and during our leisure time."
Five of the prosecutions were brought by Belfast City Council while Limavady Borough Council and Strabane District Council took one each.
The number of notices issued was expected to increase because of powers to tackle night-time noise were extended under Noise Act 1996 but, only Belfast and Coleraine councils made use of the additional powers.
Belfast City Council served 554 warnings under the Noise Act and 23 fixed penalty notices of £100 while Coleraine served one warning notice under the Noise Act 1996.
The minister said he wanted more councils to get tough on noise offenders.
He added: "This is the first year when the night-noise powers contained within the Noise Act 1996 apply to all district councils across Northern Ireland, having previously applied only to Belfast City Council. Given that domestic noise is the largest cause of noise complaints and loud music, television and parties are the major culprit within this category, I urge all councils to make full use of these powers to help them address and reduce noise and improve the quality of life of affected citizens."