North West Euro-MP makes a noise about noise

North West Conservative Euro-MP Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins is campaigning to overturn a recent vote at committee stage in the European Parliament that could put many local pubs and clubs out of business. There are over 20,000 pubs in the North West, and three-quarters of them play music: this could be banned as too loud under a new EU Directive.

Speaking in Brussels, he said:
"Although we have very tough noise regulations in the UK which, as Environment Minister in 1995, I was instrumental in introducing, the EU Commission is now proposing even tougher laws. These would reduce the maximum noise exposure limit levels from 90 decibels to 87. Because decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale, this difference of three decibels means a reduction of 50%. This is simply not realistic, unless noise is averaged out over a weekly basis. A busy pub with music can generate 90 decibels when it gets going, but only 75 decibels on average when measured over a week. The UK Health and Safety Executive supports the principle of weekly averaging, but Labour and LibDem MEPs have voted against this idea.

It is not just the pubs and clubs who have a problem: the Association of British Orchestras claim that the Directive would virtually stop them playing any loud repertoire whatsoever. A single trumpet can reach 130 decibels. It has been seriously suggested that audiences and musicians should all wear earplugs.

There is yet a chance for common sense to win through. Next Tuesday (12th March) MEPs vote in the full parliamentary session in Strasbourg. We have this one chance to get weekly averaging re-instated. I am urging MEPs from other political parties to reverse their previous committee vote and support the Tory campaign." END

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