Headlines: August 19th, 2003

The government is beginning consultations on proposals drawn up by the construction industry to deal with the problem of noise levels generated by neighbours. It follows claims by the industry that new tests for sound insulation in new homes and conversions, announced by the Office of the Deputy prime Minister, would lead to delays and higher costs.Ministers had asked the builders to prove that their alternative – investing in high performance designs with checklists to verify correct construction – would achieve the results needed. Now, following several months of research and development sponsored by the House Builders Federation, the ODPM is inviting comments on whether the industry’s preferred system, known as Robust Standard Details, is an acceptable alternative to the Government’s pre-completion testing approach.

The Minister responsible for Building Regulations Phil Hope said the government was aware of the need not to stifle trade with too much red tape but was not prepared to compromise on consumer issues. The construction industry, he said, had to prove that their system would will work.

“We are satisfied that RSDs can provide an effective alternative to pre-completion testing but are now consulting on the issue in order to gain a wider spectrum of opinion,” he said.

Figures from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health put the number of complaints about domestic noise at more than 5,500 per million of population.