Andrews v. Reading BC
 EWHC 970 (Admin)
Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
29 April 2004
NOTE: An Excellent Summary of this case can be found at: http://www.1cor.com/1315/?form_1155.replyids=362
The claimant sued his local authority under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because his local authority had changed the nearby highways so that the claimant was subjected to excess traffic noise outside of his house. Under current regulations, he could receive no recompense. The claimant sought £4,200 to compensate him for his noise mitigation efforts and was awarded £2000 by the court for the inconvenience he suffered and because the defendant local council had failed to take any steps to mitigate the noise damage when it altered the highways.
The claimant had spent £4,200 insulating his home in order to mitigate excessive traffic noise created by a traffic regulation order made by the local Council. If the Regulations applied, there would have been a discretion to make a grant for noise insulation provided that the increase caused by the relevant highway alteration made an effective contribution to the existing noise level of at least 1dB(A) and that that level was at least 68dB(A) averaged over a period between 6am and midnight on a normal working day. A, who was a retired engineer, had carried out measurements which he contended to demonstrate an average increase of 3.17dB(A) over the 6am to midnight period and that the relevant level was 71.78dB(A). A's figures showed that even at night between 9pm and 10pm the levels reached 69dB(A). Although A was interested only in obtaining the £4,200 he had to pay for noise insulation, for the Reading local authority there was the prospect that the cost of traffic regulation orders would escalate if the claim was successful.
The claimant was not entitled to a grant under the Noise Insulation Regulations 1975 and he was unsuccessful in his proceedings for damages to defray his expenses before the county court judge. Before the Divisional Court, the claimant maintained his argument that the traffic regulation order interfered with his rights under the Article 8(1) of the Convention (right to a private life) and that the absence of any possibility of compensation made that interference disproportionate. The Reading local authority argued that it was clear that the traffic order was justified because that the order's benefits outweighed the adverse impact on the claimant; and that the Regulations showed that Parliament had considered the scope of grant schemes in relation to road traffic noise and had not extended it to the sort of order with which claimant's claim was concerned.
The claimant was successful because the noise interfered with the claimant's Article 8 rights. Moreover, the defendant had failed to take or to consider taking any steps to mitigate the extra noise created by the scheme; it also refused to pay any compensation for the interference, nor did it consider doing so. Hence there was no justification for this interference. The appropriate level of damages was £2,000. This represented (a) the sum which it would have been reasonable for the defendant to offer in the light of the claimant's complaints plus (b) a sum to reflect the unreasonable way in which claimant's requests were responded to.
The claimant just wanted recompense for the noise insulation he had to pay for when the Council created a busier road outside his house. Not a villain.