Adjournment Debate. - Bray-Shankill By-Pass Noise Pollution.

I thank you for allowing me to raise this matter on the Adjournment. The Bray-Shankill by-pass was opened to traffic a year ago, on 24 September 1991. Since then, a number of Shankill residents whose homes are close to the motorway have been plagued by noise. The problem has been particularly acute for residents of Assumpta Park, Newvale and Crinken Glen Estate and for the residents of houses along the line of the motorway.

One family whose house is only 90 feet from the edge of the motorway, in contravention of both EC and Dublin County Council standards, have reported to me that they are regularly woken at night by the sound of traffic. Their lives have been totally upset by noise on the motorway. They cannot sleep, the children cannot study, they cannot enjoy television and even conducting a normal conversation is virtually impossible because of the din from the new road. In response to these complaints Dublin County Council conducted a noise survey at five dwellings which are close to the motorway. The survey showed that the average noise levels at the five houses were 57, 60, 63, 71 and 75 decibels respectively.

On 22 July last the county council submitted a case to the Department of the Environment that funding should be provided for double glazing or other noise abatement measures at these houses. By a letter dated 29 September the Minister for the Environment informed me that the UK standard of 68 decibels had been exceeded at two of the dwellings and that what he termed "accommodation works" had been agreed for these dwellings. For the other houses, including the one which is only 90 feet from the road, he proposed no remedy but went on to state:

It should be noted that the United Kingdom regulation has no statutory force in this country. While there is no mechanism for noise reduction measures for properties not affected by land acquisition, the design of the scheme attempted to keep noise below acceptable levels by incorporation of mounds, walls, planting, etc., as part of the scheme.

I challenge this position and ask the Minister to reconsider the problems faced by the householders and provide funding for double glazing. There are no official standards for noise here and we should not slavishly follow the UK standard. The survey gave average results, but clearly at different times of the day the UK standard is considerably exceeded.

Before the road opened the householders were promised that the noise problem would be attended to. On 8 November 1989 Dublin County Council wrote as follows:

Where necessary, noise abatement measures will be provided in the form of walls, fences and planting. If cases of noise arise they will be dealt with on their merits.

The Minister stated that the potential noise problem was taken into account in the design of the road. Even if that was so, the road which was constructed is almost one metre higher than that which was designed or that which was approved by the Minister.

The county council told me on 2 December last:

The levels as constructed vary from .467 metres to .659 metres above those produced at the public inquiry.

The public inquiry was presented with objections from householders about noise. Clearly, the road built is considerably higher and consequently noisier than that which was approved following the public inquiry.

In view of the fact that the noise levels are intolerable for householders, that promises were made to the householders before the road was opened that the noise problem would be attended to afterwards, that the road as constructed is higher than it was designed and that, notwithstanding the UK standards, the noise levels which have been shown in the survey are very high, I ask the Minister to approve funding from Dublin County Council to provide double glazing or other noise abatement measures to the limited number of houses involved.

I have listened with interest to the points raised by Deputy Gilmore. I must point out that the Shankill/Bray by-pass was designed to minimise, in so far as possible, the effect of noise on residential areas. Noise abatement measures, such as the provision of mounds, walls and other landscaping, have been provided by the local authority and have been funded from road grants for the scheme. Dublin County Council have submitted a number of requests to my Department for funding towards the provision of double glazing for houses adjacent to the by-pass. With regard to this question of double glazing, or indeed any other compensation matters, I would like to explain to the Deputy that compensation is only payable where land is compulsorily acquired. The principles upon which compensation is assessed when land is taken under compulsory powers are well established and give the owner the maximum advantages under the compensation code. The local authority were advised that compensation is only payable to property owners where property is compulsorily acquired and that, in such cases, compensation, in default of agreement, is determined by arbitration under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919.

I would also point out that in a recent noise survey carried out on the council's behalf by the Eastern Health Board, noise levels in excess of the United Kingdom standard of 68 dB(A) were recorded at only two properties. As both of these cases involved property acquisition, accommodation works were agreed as part of the compensation paid to the parties concerned. While, of course, the UK standard has no statutory force here, I am satisfied that the measures already implemented by the local authority are more than adequate and any further remedial works are not considered necessary, Dublin County Council have been so advised.