HC Deb 22 July 1996 vol 282 c90W
Mr. Ainger

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints were received from the public about noise from the Shoeburyness range and locally related facilities in each of the last five years and 1996 to date. [37916]

Mr. Arbuthnot

[holding answer 18 July 1996]This is a matter for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency under its framework document. I have asked the chief executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Nick Ainger, dated 22 July 1996: 1. I have been asked to reply to your question about complaints from the public about noise from the range at Shoeburyness. I am Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA) which includes a trials and evaluation range at Shoeburyness, Essex. 2. As far as I am aware all the complaints about noise in the area relate to activities at the DERA Shoeburyness Range. This undertakes essential ammunition & gun proof testing, trials and evaluation of equipment and ordnance disposal activities on behalf of the Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence. The numbers of complaints over the period 1990 to 1995 are as follows:

  • 1990: 73
  • 1991:47
  • 1992: 223
  • 1993: 420
  • 1994: 912
  • 1995: 635
The total number of complaints received so far in 1996 is 453, the monthly breakdown being as follows:
  • Jan: 236
  • Feb: 77
  • Mar: 39
  • Apr: 19
  • May: 60
  • Jun: 20
3. DERA has introduced a number of measures to mitigate the effects of noise on the local population. Sound propagation predictions are made twice a day, based on up to date meteorological data and trials activities are curtailed if predicted noise levels over inhabited areas exceed certain limits. One exception occurred in January 1996 where an operationally urgent trial related to the IFOR deployment of UK forces in Bosnia had to be conducted. In addition where a particular trial may result in loud noise, and many do not, advance warnings are given in the local press and on Essex radio. There is also a telephone enquiry service which gives notice to callers of daily range activities. 4. DERA is also looking at new methods to reduce the noise at source including enclosing firing points within earth ramparts or straw filled containers. 5. I hope this is helpful.