Listen carefully

Mail reporter Graeme Cousins with the equipment used to monitor noise complaints. INLM2112-155gc
Mail reporter Graeme Cousins with the equipment used to monitor noise complaints. INLM2112-155gc
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IN order to get to grips with his latest assignment, ‘MAIL’ reporter Graeme Cousins had to listen very carefully.

Our man joined Niall Currie of Craigavon Council’s Environmental Protection department as he set about investigating a noise complaint in Lurgan.

Graeme accompanied Niall to the house of the complainant where high-tech surveillance gear was set up to monitor the source of the annoyance - two barking dogs.

He also got hands on experience with the listening equipment used by the team to gauge whether or not a noise complaint will be acted on.

His assignment coincided with Noise Awareness Week which runs from May 21 to 25.

Here’s what Graeme found out over the course of two days with the Environmental Protection team...

During the past year Craigavon Council has received 335 complaints about noise.

183 complaints have been about noise made by animals, 84 people have been investigating for loud music, TV and parties while 33 complaints cover other noises made by neighbours.

Niall Currie said barking dogs were by far the biggest source of noise complaints in the Craigavon area. With that in mind I was given the opportunity to accompany Niall to a house in Lurgan where a man had made a complaint about the noise being made by his neighbour’s dogs.

As you’d expect surveillance is a pretty hush-hush kind of operation and as such I can neither reveal the identity or address of the complainant nor can the ‘MAIL’ include any pictures of Niall as he needs a cloak of anonymity under which to perform his day to day work.

Upon arriving at the house Niall and the gentleman making the complaint briefed me on the reason we were there.

Several weeks ago the man, who lives with his wife and occasionally has his granddaughter staying over, made a complaint about two dogs barking next door.

He said the dogs barked from around tea time when their owner got home and on many occasions the barking could go on into the night.

Niall, who has been with the council for 13 years, said: “In the first instance we’d encourage people to speak to their neighbours but we understand this isn’t always easy.”

In this case, as the complainant had reported there had been no improvement since the initial warning letters were sent out to the person responsible, it was decided that a listening device would be installed in the home of the complainant.

Niall said: “We sent out a letter to tell the complainant’s neighbour that we’re going to do surveillance work, but we don’t say when.

“In this case we’re now at the stage where we set up listening equipment for a week in the complainant’s house. It gives us a chance to listen to the noises he’s hearing.

“The sound quality is that good we might as well be there.”