UK: battle continues over cement noise

UK: battle continues over cement noise
Published: 20 October 2009

Imagine your next-door neighbour mowing the lawn for 36 hours at a time.

That’s the kind of nuisance business owners and residents complain they are plagued by every fortnight when the Southern Cement ship drops anchor at Ipswich docks.

The company has been at the centre of an increasingly bitter feud between Ipswich Borough Council and a small pressure group known as NAG (Noise Action Group).

The group claims Southern Cement has given them sleepless nights since it began unloading at the port seven years ago - yet the council refuses to accept the noise to be an actionable nuisance and is considering allowing the company to expand its operations.

Noise is only half the issue for NAG, which argues that cement dust being washed into the River Orwell by the ship could be harming their health.

Southern Cement is permitted to discharge cement by the council but NAG wants environment bosses to recognise the company’s activities as a breach of legislation.

Wherstead resident Keith Winter and business owner Peter Evans have both attended meetings where the issue of noise and dust has been raised.

A decision is yet to be made on whether the company can expand operations by building a third silo at its Cliff Quay plant but the argument is sure to rumble on whatever the outcome.

Mr Evans, who has an office on The Strand and lives in Stoke Park, said: “Southern Cement is being allowed to jeopardise our lives the council is forcing ordinary people to do its work.

“The ship comes in at noon on a Friday and doesn’t stop until Sunday lunchtime. You can’t get away from it. If we want to sell our houses we have to tell the buyer about the noise.

“We don’t want to get involved in politics - we just want it to stop.”

Meanwhile, the council has informed NAG that it is in discussion with Southern Cement over ways in which noise levels can be reduced.