23 May 2005

Surge in noise fines in Madrid

Noise is not only hazardous to your hearing; it can also hurt your wallet.

A tough ban on noise pollution and the creation of the Brigade Against Noise in June 2004, in Madrid resulted in an astonishing increase in inspections and fines for noise pollution.

The latest report from the Madrid City Council showed a 13 percent increase in the number of inspections and almost 600 percent increase in the number of fines. Thanks to the increased enforcement of the noise regulations following the creation of the Brigade Against Noise the number of inspections rose to 10,513 in 2004. The number of fines increased to 524 from 89 in the previous year.

The fines issued amounted to Euro 482,311, compared to Euro 21,130 in the previous year.

Traffic and noisy neighbours were the most common noise nuisances, causing a total of more than 3,200 inspections. Parties and music in the streets provoked 1.200 inspections, while leisure areas attracted 760 inspections and workshops and industry caused 210 inspections.

Most of the sanctions imposed were moderate with fines of up to Euro 600. These infractions are normally related to loud music, air conditioning and elevators. There were around 50 severe sanctions, with fines up to Euro 12,000 for excessive noise from extractor fans, refrigerating systems, car washes, bars and even shoe heels clicking. 60 extremely severe violations resulting in fines up to Euro 300,000 each were cited at bars and restaurants, workshops, schools and cement works industries. One well-known pub was fined Euro 120,000 and closed down as a preventive measure.

Noise is dangerous to your general health as well as your hearing. It may cause hearing loss, sleeping disorders, hypertension, headaches, and now in Madrid, noise may also be a pain in your wallet.

Sources: Qué! newspaper and www.abc.es, 23 February, 2005

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