Friday, 29 July 2011

Noise Restriction Nonsense

This is a post I published early last year on RaceDepartment, a motorsport and racing game community site. It is reposted here, edited slightly because of my less cloudy and more discerning mind nowadays, for your enjoyment. Despite its age, the issue it talks about is still very much one that needs to be discussed.

Britain – a country with a rich and diverse motor racing history, with many F1 world champions, some awesome tracks and some of the most avid fans – not to mention the home of car and engine manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Cosworth and others.
And yet, it seems that some members of the public are intent on stifling this favourite sport of mine. Apparently, they don't like the noise that the race cars produce, and have lobbied for noise nuisance orders to be issued so that they can sit and read their newspapers in peace. Sadly, most of their attempts have been successful. Two famous british racetracks – Castle Combe and Snetterton – have had to limit the number of days/weekends of racing per year due to noise nuisance orders being issued by their local councils at the request of residents. And in 2009, that greatest of circuits, Spa-Francorchamps, was threatened by local residents... complaining about the noise.
In Castle Combe's case, this was particularly crippling; the British Touring Car, British Formula 3 and British GT Championships have not been allowed to return to the circuit since 2005 - the cars, apparently, were too loud. And for Snetterton, its owners had to reach a compromise with the local council: limiting the number of unsilenced cars on the track at any one time, and limiting the amount of time the vehicles are allowed to run.

This annoys me to the highest level. I cannot even begin to comprehend the sheer nonsense of this situation. Yes, some people find the sound of an unsilenced car annoying – though it is an aural symphony to fans like me, I can understand their point of view. What I don't understand is why these people insist on spoiling the enjoyment of millions for the "peace" of a mere few.

If the residents in question are that serious about eliminating the sound of race cars, they should probably go somewhere where there aren't any cars racing. Simply moving away is the most bleeding obvious solution, but nevertheless there are a few deeper questions that need to be asked of these ignorant residents.

Just how many of the complainers have lived in the area for a long time, ie. more than a few years, and are therefore accustomed to the sound of cars coming from afar? Not many, I can assume.
Continuing on from the first point, how old are these annoyed residents? Castle Combe and Snetterton opened for racing in the 1940s and 1950s respectively, and Spa has been holding races since 1921. I don't think many of the residents would have been born before these tracks were opened; therefore, the track in question has been around and making noise longer than they have!
How many of the angry residents did their research before buying their house? How many took a look at their area's local attractions and thought “Oh, there's a racetrack near this house I'm going to buy... maybe I should think about getting a house somewhere else,”? Honestly...

Furthermore, these people seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that race tracks are a major tourist and traveller's attraction. Motor racing costs money, but it also brings money in as well. The BTCC and related championships have always been popular, and are a major drawcard to a local area. Are these residents not noticing that Snetterton and Castle Combe bring a lot of visitors in, with quite a few quid in their pockets? A circuit is quite a useful tool for boosting the economy of a town or city, and the select few intent on destroying what means so much to so many people are either ignoring it or unwilling to acknowledge it... or maybe they're too brainless to realise it.

Anyway, it's getting late as I type and my brain's starting to get a little sluggish, but I feel slightly at ease now that I have vented my frustrations about these ingoramuses who populate little English villages near famous race circuits. The men and women whining about the buzzing and rumbling of motorsports can have their quiet afternoons, reading their Sunday paper. But in the process, they are killing jobs, and the entertainment, monetary and historic value of a place close to the hearts of many, many fans.

And they have no-one to blame but themselves.

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