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John Campbell QC - Successful Noise Abatement Order

In an interesting application thought to be one of the first of its kind in Scotland, John Campbell QC was instructed to make an application to a Sheriff for a noise abatement order on behalf of the owners of a rural smallholding who were troubled by noise from a small wind turbine. The machine, only some 20m in height, made a noise like a small helicopter at all hours of the day and night whenever the wind was from the South West. The local authority had given it planning permission, and were understandably reluctant to then undermine their own decision by serving a Noise Abatement Notice.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990, s. 82 provides a little known but simple method for members of the public to do this for themselves, by setting out their story in a Summary Application, and after serving a Notice on the alleged wrongdoer, to bring the matter before a Sheriff. While some expert help on noise levels and what amounts to a "statutory nuisance" is required, the procedure is (as Parliament seems to have intended) delightfully free of most of the procedural niceties which sometimes accompany litigation. In this case, the neighbour saw (forgive us!) the way the wind was blowing, and agreed to remove the turbine. The clients can sleep at night, and the farmer can put his turbine somewhere else if he can amend his planning permission.