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Towers noise should be cut by half court hears

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Wednesday, 14th September 2005 By Dan Ketteringham

An Acoustics expert told a court that day-to-day noise at Alton Towers should be reduced by more than half.

Mike Stigwood told Birmingham Crown Court yesterday that the theme park's owners Tussaud's should take any practical steps to make noise levels 'reasonable' for nearby residents.

He also admitted that while it was reasonable to expect some noise from the park on a daily basis, halving the current level would be equivalent to that "inside a quiet country bedroom at night."

Farley residents Suzanne and Stephen Roper had brought a successful private prosecution against Tussaud's in November last year to force them to reduce noise levels.

The Ropers live just 100 yards away from the theme park's main entrance and complained of constant noise from screaming thrillseekers, mechanical rides, music and tannoys.

They also objected to noise from special events such as concerts and fireworks displays.

A district judge ruled the cumulative effect of the noises caused them a "statutory nuisance", and issued a noise abatement order.

After Tussaud's lost its appeal against the decision in July, lawyers put forward their cases at yesterday's hearing to influence the details of any new order.

The original order limited the theme park to one 30-minute fireworks display a year and forced it to reduce noise levels over a specified time.

Judge William Everard, sitting with two magistrates, told the court yesterday that this may have been too harsh and he would consider allowing fireworks displays on three consecutive nights.

But Stephen Hockman QC, representing the Ropers, argued there should be two separate sets of displays over two consecutive nights - one on a date near bonfire night and another several weeks before.

Mr Hockman said three consecutive nights would give rise to an "unreasonable interference" and would "perpetuate the nuisance."

He added that the noise could be controlled by a new ticketing system limiting the number of visitors, which would also impact on traffic noise, and by using particular types of fireworks that did not cause such a loud bang.

Mr Hockman said noise levels from music and public address systems should not be heard inside homes, and that both the volume and number of screams from visitors should be reduced.

In evidence to the court, Mr Stigwood answered questions on his recommendations for any new order, as outlined in a report of August 5 this year.

Mr Hockman had described Mr Stigwood's report as "rigorous, logical and reasonable".

But under cross examination the acoustics expert defended suggestions by defence barrister Jonathan Caplan QC that his demands to reduce noise by more than half were unreasonable.

He said: "That is the reduction needed to get to the point where we do not have a nuisance any more and where we can be confident that is not the case."

When Mr Caplan asked how reasonable it would be to force Alton Towers to reduce screaming noise, Mr Stigwood said a full investigation should begin into how the rides could be positioned so noise travelled away from homes.

He added that rides could be designed to limit screaming to lower points.

The hearing continues.

Source: The Sentinel


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