Critics have to weigh up boths sides, says Hanna

Noise was Foo much, but business benefited

By Paul Ainsworth

CRITICISM over noise emanating from a music festival in South Belfast must be balanced with the news that local traders benefited from thousands of visitors, it has been claimed.

Balmoral Councillor Claire Hanna spent the days following the Tennent’s Vital gigs wading through e-mails from local constituents who were horrified at the decibels being pumped from the Boucher Road Playing Fields last Tuesday and Wednesday.

The South Belfast News also spoke with a resident of the Ormeau Road area, who was forced to attempt to drown out the noise of US rockers the Foo Fighters in her child’s bedroom with an electric fan.

However, the hordes of music fans who streamed into South Belfast for the two-day gig also brought a much-needed boost to local business, something which needs to be welcomed, Councillor Hanna said.

“I have attended and worked at many outdoor concerts in the last decade, and I have to say this did seem particularly loud to me,” she said.

“In some areas, the noise was loud even inside houses with all the windows shut. Most people in Balmoral are supportive of our local nighttime economy, but we do have to find the correct balance between those enjoying a night out and the right of local residents to enjoy a quiet night at home.

“I am in principle in favour of these events – the Lisburn Road was bustling on the two evenings, providing a much needed boost for many traders. It is also welcome that music fans no longer have to travel to Dublin or London to see world-class acts.

“I’m also encouraged by the fact that some 30,000 people were moved to and from the concerts with relatively few incidents of anti-social behaviour.

 

“After complaints on Tuesday, I spoke with Belfast City Council’s Environmental Health Department, who met with the concert organisers. It was agreed that the decibel levels would be reduced and this did happen, though I appreciate that the music was still very loud in parts. I am seeking clarity on the range of levels recorded to see if there is an acceptable compromise between the minimum legal level and the level at which it becomes a nuisance to residents. Inevitably, those within a certain radius will hear something, but within acceptable limits. This should be benchmarked against similar events in other cities, and other environmental noise.”

Meanwhile, on the Ormeau Road, local resident Liz Fawcett fought a losing sonic battle against the Foo Fighters, fronted by shouty singer Dave Grohl.

“It sounded like there was a party going on next door,” she said. “My young child was finding it hard to get to sleep and the only way we could find to block out the noise was to turn on an electric fan in her room. Thankfully, the second night with the Stone Roses wasn’t as bad, and it seems noise complaints were taken on board. If I’d wanted to hear the Foo Fighters’ back catalogue I’d have bought a ticket, but it turns out I didn’t have to leave my home to listen to them play live.”

 

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