§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what questions he has received about the number of environmental health officers employed by local authorities to combat noise nuisance between neighbours.
§ Mr. Baldry
I have received no specific questions on this. Local environmental health officers carry out a wide range of functions and I am aware that the number of complaints to local authorities about neighbourhood noise is increasing. However, it remains for each local authority to determine its own priorities in deploying its environmental health officers, having regard to their statutory duties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the available resources and needs of their community.
Non-statutory action, such as dispute mediation by third parties and community codes on noise behaviour, may help to relieve the pressure on environmental health officers and also achieve a more effective and longer lasting solution. My Department is therefore part-funding a mediation scheme in Bristol. We are also funding a pilot neighbourhood noise awareness scheme in Forest Hill, London. The scheme incorporates a community code suggesting ways of keeping noise down and being a considerate neighbour.