PRESS RELEASE by Thompson’s Solicitors
For immediate release: 10:00hrs, 23rd November 2012
Families hopes of peace and quiet dashed by Transport Minister
No further testing for night noise and vibration to be carried out on Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line
Families who live close to the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway line whose lives are being blighted by noise and vibration caused by overnight freight have had hopes for a solution dashed.
A series of Parliamentary questions tabled by Dr Richard Simpson, the MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, probed the Scottish Government on the situation following the introduction of night freight on the line which residents had been led to believe wouldn’t happen. The questions asked for details of testing for noise and vibration at residential properties along the line and about standards used to decide on mitigation measures.
Among the answers the Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP stated that vibration measurements had been concluded and that following repeated noise testing no additional properties would be tested for the first time. He also admitted that in reaching it’s conclusion regarding mitigation for properties along the line only four properties had actually been tested for vibration and just 11 for noise levels.
Campaigners claim the Scottish Government is refusing to protect them from the health risks associated with noise and that the Government has based this refusal on a 20 year old report which was commissioned to look at noise as a nuisance. They also claim that two decades of medical research that warn of chronic ill-health, sleep deprivation and stress are being ignored.
Chairman of the Noise Vibration Action Group Archie McIver has accused the Scottish Government of digging its heels in on the issue and said: “By using a defunct, 20 year-old standard called the Mitchell Report, the Scottish Government is refusing to protect line-side families from the harmful impact of night-time train noise.
“There has been a total disregard for the health of people like myself and others who have to deal with interrupted sleep night after night, and the constant daily stress of being bombarded by noise. The financial loss of value to our property is tens of thousands of pounds but this is nothing compared to the struggle to work and to function in a sleep-deprived state. Driving is something we increasingly avoid because of the high risk.”
Thompsons Partner Patrick McGuire said: “The Scottish Government’s latest position on addressing the issue of overnight noise and vibration on the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line is frankly not good enough. These families were told that the line would not be used for night freight and not only was this complete nonsense but there seems to be no appetite whatsoever to resolve the problem which is causing sleep deprivation and knock on health issues as a result for a large number of people”.
Commenting on the Ministers responses Dr Simpson MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, a former GP and Psychiatrist said: “The fact that this SNP Government and the Minister who is also a local MSP choose to ignore the suffering of many of my constituents shows a complacency which is uncaring in the extreme.
The designation threshold for night time noise nuisance of 82db noise level and occurring more than once per hour means that these night coal trains can never be deemed a disturbance as they are always less frequent than hourly. The Minister and Transport Scotland officials should try sleeping at night in the affected households. It is a shameful disregard for the health and well being of those affected.”
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News Release from Thompsons Solicitors Scotland
For immediate release: 16.30, Wednesday 19th September 2012
Campaigners’ plight against noise vibrations raised in Scottish Parliament
A campaign launched by Scottish residents whose lives have been disrupted by noise and vibration caused by a local train line have been given a boost following a Parliamentary debate.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, Dr Richard Simpson today (Wednesday) asked the Transport Minister, Keith Brown MSP, if he had any proposals to alleviate suffering for constituents suffering severe disturbance from freight on the Stirling, Alloa and Clackmannan to Kincardine and Longannet line.
During the Scottish Labour Party rail debate on the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) Dr Simpson told the Parliament how one family in particular, the McIvers had been left in despair following regular noise pollution reaching 85 decibels with no mitigation from the Scottish Government.
Archie McIver and his family, along with other residents, have suffered for four years due to freight using the line overnight. Mr McIver is chair of the campaign organisation Noise Vibration Action Group (NVAG) and has been working with Thompsons Solicitors Scotland to resolve this constant blight on their lives.
Archie McIver, chair of NVAG said: “Myself and other members of the group are grateful to Dr Simpson for taking up this issue on our behalf in the Scottish Parliament and hope this will go some way towards resolution.
“The impact this has had on our lives has made the past few years nothing short of unbearable. It will take more than a Parliamentary debate to resolve this but we are satisfied that the issue is being addressed and we will continue to campaign until we are finally able to live our lives peacefully and without unnecessary disruption from freight noise and vibrations.”
Patrick McGuire, Partner with Thompsons Scotland added: “Today’s debate is an important step forward for the families who have been made to suffer disruption to their home lives for far too long.
“Transport Scotland has contiunally failed to meet European standards on noise and vibration and I welcome recognition of this in Parliament.
“Thompsons Scotland is working closely with the action group to resolve these issues and we hope this debate will bring us a step close to settling matters for those involved.”
Earlier this week NVAG sent an open letter to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond on the issue.
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Note to editors:
PRESS RELEASE FROM THOMPSONS SOLICITORS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2012
SCOTS COMMUNITY TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION OVER TRAIN LINE
A Scottish community has come together to take action against noise and vibration problems caused by a busy train line.
The Noise Vibration Action Group (NVAG) was founded after officials failed residents living along the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway line by ignoring their calls to reduce the disturbance caused by trains, primarily coal freight, travelling on the line through Stirling, Alloa and Clackmannan to Kincardine and Longannet power station.
Over the course of four years the community sought the assistance of the Scottish Government as well as regulatory bodies to look into the issue, but to no avail.
Environmental problems such as noise and vibration can have serious effects on health, and NVAG argue that since Network Rail is to use the line 24/7, the disturbance will have an increasing impact on the health and lives of residents in the future.
NVAG is to convene a meeting tomorrow [Thursday 6 September] to discuss further action, and has approached Thompsons Solicitors to advise on the legal options open to residents wishing to pursue this matter through the courts.
Archie McIver, Chair of the Group, comments:
“The noise and vibration levels approved by Transport Scotland and being allowed by Network Rail show a complete lack of corporate responsibility from both organisations.
“The levels on this four year-old line far exceed any modern health-based standards and bear no relationship to the standards presented in the public consultation or to the Scottish Parliament in order to win approval for the Bill.
The first shock for residents who had been told that there would be no night traffic was when night freight trains started running. To compound the problem, the standards presented to the public and to the Scottish Parliament were abandoned when consultants hired by Transport Scotland advised that unlimited noise twice an hour was appropriate for undisturbed sleep.
“Residents are taking legal action in order to gain what most would consider a fundamental right: the chance of a reasonable night’s sleep.
Sarah Smith, solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, comments:
“The residents have endured four years of interrupted home life – including serious sleep disturbance – without support from the official and regulatory bodies meant to help them.
“They are at their wits’ end but have coalesced to form a well organised and determined action group.
“European law states very clearly that there are environmental standards in terms of noise and vibration which Transport Scotland has continually failed to meet.
“We also consider that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – which holds that an individual has a right to the peaceful enjoyment of their private and family life – is potentially being breached here given that the Strasbourg court has held that the right extends to quiet enjoyment of your home.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with the residents to discuss how best to take matters forward.”
Notes to editors:
- NVAG meeting: 7.30pm on the 6th September 2012 at 7.30pm, Community Campus, Drip Road, Stirling FK8 1RD
- NVAG website: https://noisevibrationactiongroup.wordpress.com/
- For additional quotes/comments from Archie McIver and Sarah Smith, contact Tim Weir on 07974 262 997