Complaints about dog barking in Craigavon have almost doubled over the past year, according to new statistics.
Craigavon recorded the second highest number of complaints about noise among all the 26 councils in Northern Ireland over the past year, according to figures released by the Department of the Environment.
There were 425 complaints investigated in 2012/13 by Craigavon Council environmental health officers. The statistics show a 27 per cent hike compared to 2011/12 figures. The most common form of complaint received by the council is animal noise (mainly dog barking) with 269 complaints, an increase of 47 per cent.
A new law, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act gives district councils the power to deal with noise.
No one has been prosecuted by Craigavon Council for noise pollution as yet, though it constitutes 82 per cent of complaints. However a council spokesperson said three noise abatement notices were served between April and March this year and from April to November six notices were served.
A spokesperson for Craigavon Council said the council’s investigation process normally starts informally with correspondence with the parties involved.
“If the informal approach does not resolve the complaint, then the council will carry out further investigation which will involve noise monitoring. Where a statutory noise nuisance has been confirmed the council will issue a noise abatement notice. Failure to comply with this notice will lead to legal proceedings,” said the spokesperson.
The council says it aims to raise awareness of the problem with a variety of initiatives. “These include working in partnership with The NI Housing Executive, Police Service NI, Youth Justice Agency and Craigavon Policing and Community Safety Partnership. These organisations come together as a forum with the aim of reducing levels of anti-social behaviour including noise. Agencies share information and develop interventions to tackle issues including noise.”
And Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has called on more councils to get tough on noise offenders.
He said: “This is the first year when the night-noise powers contained within the Noise Act 1996 apply to all district councils. I urge all councils to make full use of these powers to help them address and reduce noise and improve the quality of life of citizens.”