Article: Inadequate Sound Insulation: Does the Law of Nuisance Provide an Effective Remedy?
This paper begins with the basic premise that noise is an inescapable feature of modern life and considers how inadequate sound insulation exacerbates the problems associated with noise pollution. The obvious mechanism for ensuring that buildings are constructed so as to provide sufficient sound insulation is the building control regime contained in the Building Regulations. The paper proceeds to analyse the building regulations and highlights the deficiencies which seriously inhibit their efficacy in terms of providing protection from excessive noise. The central issue therefore, is the extent to which the law of nuisance (both common law and statutory) is capable of providing an effective remedy in situations where the Building Regulations are in-applicable. It will be contended that following the House of Lords decision in Baxter v London Borough of Camden, the utility of common law nuisance has been radically undermined as a solution and this has a knock on effect in relation to statutory nuisance where the term ‘nuisance’ is given its common law definition. For a period of time it did seem that section 70(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, relating to the state of premises, provided a solution to external noise but statutory and case law developments have seriously undermined the effectiveness of section 70(1)(a) in this regard. It is therefore submitted that if the law of nuisance is to have any utility as a remedy for inadequate sound insulation it is essential that the courts adopt a definition of the phrase ‘prejudicial to health’ which is sufficiently wide to cover the adverse psychological effects of noise.