FEBRUARY 27, 2010: Complaints about rural noise and disturbance are increasing, with mediation services reporting a 50 per cent rise in countryside disputes since 2005. In urban areas, the rise is just 10 per cent.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says it’s all about assessing what’s ‘appropriate’ countryside noise and what’s a disturbance. It publishes ‘tranquillity maps’ showing areas of countryside where ‘natural’ sounds dominate, and locations where traffic and other unnatural noises dominate. CPRE says background noise in the countryside is typically 29 decibels. Birdsong reaches 70 decibels but most people think that’s appropriate, compared to music which may also be 70 decibels. Farmers, rather than incomers, tend to be responsible for many of the loudest rural noises. An average British farm is nearly three times the size of one on mainland Europe, so farmers here are increasingly left with spare land, which they let out to subsidise meagre annual income of less than �21,000. Of Britain’s 300,000 farms, about 50 per cent have diversified. A few have opted for noisy enterprises, such as motorbiking or helicopter rides, others let out buildings to businesses moving from cities and bringing with them commuting workers and frequent trade deliveries. Some farmers diversify with noisy eco-uses such as digesters or wind turbines. Even traditional gymkhanas or point-to-points attract hundreds of vehicles. MORE:?Mediation services are often free. Do an Internet search for ‘mediation’ to find out more.

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