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New app targets noisy neighbours as Antrim council flooded with complaints

By Nevin Farrell

Published 06/08/2016

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council says it is the first local authority in Northern Ireland to bring in a noise recording app to help in the battle against boisterous residents
Mid & East Antrim Borough Council says it is the first local authority in Northern Ireland to bring in a noise recording app to help in the battle against boisterous residents

New technology is being harnessed to combat noisy neighbours in Co Antrim.

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council says it is the first local authority in Northern Ireland to bring in a noise recording app to help in the battle against boisterous residents.

Following 371 noise complaints in a year, the council is to offer a noise recording app to enable householders with smartphones to help ensure the decibels decrease. Some 81% of the cases were in relation to household noise. A report on the new scheme, set to be launched in September, will be tabled at a council committee meeting this Monday in Carrickfergus.

The council covers the Carrick, Larne and Ballymena areas.

The report says: "When an environmental health officer is asked to look into a noise complaint, the crucial point on which the officer must make a judgment is 'whether noise amounting to a statutory nuisance exists'; a complainant's word alone is not sufficient.

"In addition there is no fixed level of noise which constitutes a statutory nuisance; individual circumstances differ and each case needs to be judged on its own merits.

"The officer has to take into account not only the loudness of the interference but also such factors as when, how often and for how long the noise occurs. Therefore it is important that evidence is logged over time to demonstrate whether or not a noise nuisance exists."

The report says that currently evidence is logged through complainant log sheets and noise monitoring equipment but that given the number of complaints received many complainants can experience delays in noise monitoring equipment becoming available.

The report added: "To address this problem from September 2016, regulatory services will introduce a new facility which permits anyone with a smartphone to record and upload a snapshot of the actual noise nuisance that they are experiencing."

The report says people can download a free app, set up an account and within minutes be able to start recording and submit a recording instantly, sending it through to the council.

Councillors will be told the technology permits the council to share recordings with both the Housing Executive and PSNI, who are their partners in tackling anti-social behaviour.

The report says there are inbuilt safeguards within the technology that will provide verification to the council's investigating officer of the recording's authenticity and a facility to 'block' those who have used the app maliciously.

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