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Ropers take Alton Towers to the High Court

In the News
Tuesday, 20th March 2007 By Dan Ketteringham

Stephen and Suzanne Roper are now taking their long-running legal battle with Alton Towers to the High Court.

The argument relates to the amount of noise created by the theme park, and its impact on the lives of the Ropers and other local residents. Alton Towers had existed for hundreds of years before the Ropers moved in, but it only started to develop into the theme park it is today, after they bought their home in Farley.

Previously, the couple had taken Alton Towers to court (through the parent company Tussauds) and won, securing a Noise Abatement Order on the park which restricts them in terms of noise levels. The park was also given a fine of £5,000, which is the maximum amount allowed for this type of order.

Alton Towers then appealed against the ruling, but ultimately the appeal was unsuccessful. However, it did mean that the terms of the Noise Abatement Order were renegotiated, which resulted in the fine dropping to £3,500 and some of the restrictions were made less harsh.

Many observers were relieved that the saga was finally over - however, the couple have now decided to appeal against the terms of the Abatement Order, by taking their case to the next court up in the legal system, the High Court in London. They claim that there were "important legal flaws" in the original Crown Court ruling and that the terms are not strict enough.

Mr Stephen Hockman QC, representing Mr and Mrs Roper, said the couple were most aggrieved by the fact that the permissible noise levels, originally set at 28-32 decibels, were raised to 40 decibels after Tussauds' appeal.

He also told top judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, that the Ropers were anxious that the original ruling may have been "illegitimately influenced by commercial considerations".

Alton Towers' Park General Manager, Russell Barnes, had previously said: "Despite our dedication and commitment to complying with all elements of the abatement order placed upon us [in 2005], we shall again be called back to court later this year to continue discussions.

"We have never felt that this case has reflected the level of actual complaints received, or the feelings of the majority of our local residents; and we are therefore at a loss to know, despite all our efforts, what more can be expected from us by its continuation."

Depending on the outcome of this case, Tussauds also have an Appeal against the Noise Abatement Order prepared. They are waiting on the outcome of this latest case before deciding whether or not to proceed with their own.

Source: The Sentinel

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