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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-06436: Ross Greer (West Scotland)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 23 January 2017

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason levels of anti-social noise, for the purpose of the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004, are measured in dB(A) rather than dB(C), in light of evidence that dB(A) measurements have trouble picking up low frequency noises, such as bass, which may cause nuisance.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 1 February 2017

Part five of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 (ASBA) was designed to provide a swift effective deterrent to the problem of antisocial neighbour noise. The decision to use dB(A) was based on the research report commissioned to inform the legislation. The report can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Research/About/EBAR/19670. Principally, environmental noise levels are generally described in terms of an A-weighting which simulates the response of the ear. The dB(A) weighting network is the most widely used. dB(C) weightings do not correlate well with human subjective tests. In addition a dB(C) weighting protocol would involve a much more complex measurement regime and thus negate the principle of a swift deterrent.

If the permitted noise levels are not exceeded, local authority officers or the police can still use other powers to abate the noise nuisance, for example, under the statutory nuisance regime. There is no statutorily defined limit for the volume of noise, including low frequencies, which constitutes a statutory nuisance. Each case is for investigation by an environmental health officer (or equivalent) who is trained to decide whether the law is being breached according to the specific circumstances.