Dr. Robert Barti
Director of Acoustic Departament of INTERNATIONAL NIGHTLIFE ASSOCIATION
Businessmen leisure sector in Catalonia look with concern the future. The economic crisis means that, in general, people get out less, do less drinks and ultimately spend less money. It is time to try the most profitable activities, saving as much as possible. But the crisis is not the only problem of the Sector, changes in the laws imply new demands to be complied. It seems that over time has played a trick on the business sector. Not too many years ago many business made major investments to adapt to smoking law. Finally time has shown that those who did the right thing, has been clearly prejudiced, and finally the smoking ban does not allow smoking in any enclosed public space, rendering useless any investment. With this background it is logical that when talking about changes in legislation, employers frown.
It is becoming more common to see how some activities that take many years working and never have generated complaints from the neighbors, lately manifestations against starting to appear. What has changed? Increased sensitivity of people? A larger population of information about laws? The pressure of the economic crisis that exacerbates tensions? All these questions could be a cause in major or a lesser degree of these changes.
These problems also happen in other countries. For example in France, close to our country both culturally and geographically. In the technical and economic aspects (fines), the French laws are stricter than the Spanish. But the penalty or the best technical rigor is not the final solution. Some more accurate solucions would to be more efficient to solve noise problems. It is very common to see buildings that are near an important highway or lane, and within months the neighbors, begin to mobilize and complaining about the noise. There was no noise when they bought the property? Probably the proximity of the lane lets the prices are cheaper and therefore more attractive, but the noise was already there.
These situations happen here in Catalonia, but in France the law says that someone who buys a home affected by the noise of an existing lane, has no right to complain about the noise. In fact, the applicant must sign a document renouncing any claim to the road noise. The law specifies that whoever buys voluntarily (and thus normally happens) housing infrastructure affected by noise, you know that the noise is there and therefore can not buy cheap rogue and then complain about noise demanding for solutions or claim compensation. The same applies to musical activities. When an activity is working before the houses were built, or before the residents arrive in homes, they have no right to complain about the noise, so that when they voluntarily agree to live in this place because the activity was present.
Of course, the maximum permissible emission levels have been accomplished and no exceptions are allowed. This is not to bypass the law, is just a limit to prevent possible abuses. We look to Europe for ideas that could someday be applied in our region.