EPA and noise management

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That brush-cutter at six am Saturday morning, the vibrations from the music set in the neighbouring village, hammers pounding away at the construction site down the street. Noise is a daily occurrence, as it can be described as unwanted or excessive sound, and includes vibration which exceeds permissible or allowable levels.
Many people, especially noisemakers are quick to think of noise as a by-product of recreation, their livelihood, or give no thought to it at all. Often, it’s the neighbour who is trying to trying to sleep after a long day or is desirous of having some quiet family time, that would raise an alarm or file a complaint with the relevant authorities. Whether we like it or not, noise is all around us, sources of noise are ever-present. Situations involving noise nuisances/disturbances often escalate when it becomes a regular feature.

Effects of noise on health
Frequent exposure to noise can have serious implications for human health which include but are not limited to: increased heart rate leading to elevated blood pressure, sleep deprivation, headaches and migraines, psychological triggers for people with PTSD, anxiety etc.

Noise also affects animals; hearing loss, disruption of migratory patterns, inability to hear and escape from predators, and abandonment of territory and loss of ability to reproduce.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandated under the Environmental Protection Act, Chapter 20:05, Laws of Guyana, to stem the creation of pollution havens and preserve, protect the integrity of the natural environment. Further, the Noise Management Regulations established in 2000 set standards and gave the Agency enforcement powers for noise management.
Activities producing noise from construction, installation, operation, modification or extension of any facility must be authorized. Anyone who wishes to operate a loudspeaker or any other sound-making device or equipment at a public space (e.g. barbecues, shows, nightclubs) or any private premises must seek permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Depending on the nature of the activity, the EPA grants two types of noise permits – Short Term Noise Permit and Long Term Noise Permit.

What you need for a Short Term Noise Permit
* Police approval
* NDC approval
* Guyana Fire Service permit
* Proof of event
* Affidavit
* Proof of rental (if you are renting the space)
* $4000 fee
* ID of applicant

Noise Management Task Force
The Ministry of Public Security, in collaboration with other various stakeholders, took the initiative to establish an Inter-Agency Task Force to combat noise nuisance. The unit was established “having recognised the right of citizens to live in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, and free from undue discomfort,”
The main goal of the Task Force, according to the Coordinator, Mr. Deonarine Ramaroop, is to ensure greater enforcement of the laws/regulations on noise nuisance, which in turn will reduce the discomfort caused by noise pollution across the country.
The Task Force currently comprises representatives from the Ministry of Public Security – (Coordinating Agency); Guyana Police Force; Guyana Prison Service; Guyana Fire Service; Ministry of Natural Resources; Environmental Protection Agency; Ministry of Communities; Ministry of Public Infrastructure; Central Housing and Planning Authority; Mayor and City Council of Georgetown; and the Guyana Revenue Authority.

 The key objectives of the Task Force are: 
* enforcing existing (or create new) rules governing codes for all buildings that cater for the use of amplified sound equipment;
* enforcing silent zones;
* eliminating the proliferation of loud music in public transport vehicles;
* recommending amendments to laws that allow the use of available technology to establish and measure noise levels for compliance and prosecution;
* curbing random and spontaneous open-air and roadside “boom boxes”; and
* examining complaints made about industrial noise and take the necessary action as deemed fit to eliminate or reduce the level of noise discomfort.

Equipping officers to tackle noise
For the second time this year, the Agency collaborated with the Ministry of Public Security and the Noise Task Force to conduct the third Noise Management Training with Officer of the Guyana Police Force from Region 5 and 6 from Wednesday, October 23, 2019, to Thursday, October 24, 2019, at the Central Police Station Recreation Hall, New Amsterdam Berbice. The training aimed to build technical capacity of Police Officers to respond to noise pollution reports from the public and to aid in the Court’s prosecution process of offenders. Police Officers were trained in the areas of EPA law, nature of evidence and footage for noise nuisance, including the use of the decibel noise meter.

Task Force to combat noise nuisance established

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: eit.epaguyana@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.