HC Deb 03 February 1982 vol 17 cc434-6


  1. '(1) A stationary internal combustion engine shall not be used in a district unless an effectual silencer is provided and used on the exhaust of the engine.
  2. (2) If any person uses such an engine in contravention of the foregoing subsection, or causes or permits such an engine to be so used, the local authority may give him notice that the engine is being or has been so used; and if, after the lapse of such time from the service of the notice as may be reasonably sufficient for remedying the cause of complaint, he uses the engine as aforesaid, or causes or permits it to be so used, he shall be liable to a fine not exceeding two hundred pounds and to a daily fine not exceeding twenty pounds.
  3. (3) Any person served with a notice under this section may appeal to a magistrates' court on the grounds that the notice is not justified.
  4. (4) An authorised officer of the local authority shall have the right in respect of any premises which he has entered in pursuance of the powers conferred by section 287 of the Act of 1936 as incorporated with this Act to inspect and test any silencer on the exhaust of such an engine found on the premises and for that purpose to require the silencer to be taken off; and any expenses incurred under this subsection by such an officer may be recovered by the local authority from the occupier of the premises if there is found on the premises such an engine which is not provided with an effectual silencer on the exhaust therof.
  5. (5) Nothing in this section shall apply to an internal combustion engine used below ground in a mine within the meaning of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954.
  6. (6) For the purposes of this section "a stationary internal combustion engine" includes a movable internal combustion engine whether part of other apparatus or not when stationary in the district.
  7. (7) This section shall not apply to an internal combustion engine used for the propulsion of a vehicle.'.—[Mr. Campbell-Savours.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

With this it will be convenient to take new clause 9—Reduction of noise from air-powered tools and compressors.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The clause relates to nuisance, and it stems from the difficulties that environmental health officers have in implementing current legislation.

The power set out in the clause is one that the Manchester corporation had under previous local Acts. It was lost as a result of the introduction of the Greater Manchester Act 1981. The Control of Pollution Act 1974 gives powers to serve notices, but the Manchester corporation's former powers were more effective than the powers that they have under the 1974 Act. The ideal behind this new clause is to put teeth back into the powers of local authorities to deal with the problem.

11.45 pm

New clause 9 deals with the problems of noise from air-powered tools and compressors. Its origins are the same as the previous new clause. It arises from the problem of Manchester corporation losing powers that it had under local Acts when the Greater Manchester Bill was introduced last year.

The amendment is loose in that it covers a moving target of technological advance. The reference in the clause is to the circumstances and the current state of technical knowledge being applied to any changes made to equipment. The power was originally available in the Noise Abatement Act 1960 and in the Public Health Act 1936. Action under those Acts involved proof of nuisance, service of a notice, determination of appeal, a hearing to obtain an order of the court, proof of continuance and prosecution of breach of any order made by the court. Those who have been required to use that legislation maintain that the procedure is slow and cumbersome. Indeed, it was unenforceable against short-term noise from muffled, unsilenced compressors. The Manchester Corporation Act (General Powers) 1971 gave effective powers, but they were lost last year.

No doubt it will again be argued by the Minister that the Control of Pollution Act 1974 deals adequately with the problem. However, Manchester corporation says that the previous powers are needed again. It maintains: The effect of the repeal of the local legislation has been to remove the deterrent value of that legislation and while most contractors observe the need for effective and efficient sound-reducing measures to be adopted, some smaller contractors and sub-contractors of major statutory undertakings tend to be ignorant of the need to suppress unnecessary noise. This has led to a worsening of environmental noise arising from the use of breakers and compressors in streets and can result in severe noise nuisance in areas where substantial street works are being carried Out. While the powers under the 1974 Act apply to noise arising from streets and construction sites, because of the long term occupancy of a construction site, control can be effected but not so readily as under the repealed legislation and the control over noise from streets in now virtually non-existent in practical terms. In this new clause we are trying to establish a right for all local authorities to enjoy the powers that Manchester corporation had before the introduction of the Act last year. It is an emikently sensible way in which to proceed, because it is clear that the experience of a local authority—no doubt other local authorities could have such powers—is that without those special powers it is incapable of dealing with the problems that arise. I hope that the hon. Gentleman respond in that light.

Mr. Macfarlane

I understand the anxiety of the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours). Most hon. Members have no doubt had experience in recent years of constituents complaining about noise from machinery and moving equipment. However, both new clauses conflict with powers under the existing legislation. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will follow me through my points. We have no desire to reject the hon. Gentleman's new clauses, but we believe that they conflict with existing legislation.

The hon. Gentleman has obviously done some research in the matter, because he acknowledged the importance of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. It contains powers under sections 58 to 61 which enable local authorities and the magistrates courts to control nuisance arising from noise from fixed sources including construction, development and demolition sites.

Section 68 of that Act empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations controlling noise from specific pieces of machinery. No new regulations are proposed at present, but the situation is kept under review. The Government are committed to containing and reducing problems arising from noise whenever and wherever possible, but we believe that that can be achieved under existing legislation. Under the proposed clause an offence would be committed even where no problem arising front noise is likely to occur, which is contrary to the philosophy behind the noise provisions in the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

In addition, I should point out that sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, protect the health—in this context the hearing—of employees and members of the public affected by noise arising from the use during work of such equipment.

Similar provisions to the new clause were introduced into Parliament in the West Midland County Council, the Isle of Wight, and the County of Lancashire Bills. The Secretary of State reported to Parliament on the first of those Bills.

The growth of noise from moving and fixed machinery is an important matter which causes concern in many areas, but I am convinced that existing legislation covers the points that the hon. Gentleman has raised. I hope that he will not press the new clauses. We cannot accept them, and if the hon. Gentleman has had bad experiences in his constituency or the surrounding area I hope that he will consider whether the existing law could be applied locally.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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