A letter from the Rye Conservation Society to the transport secretary Grant Shapps
Re: Excessive motor cycle exhaust noise
I am writing to you on behalf of Rye Conservation Society to ask for your reassurance that your government’s concerns as to the harmful effects of excessive motor cycle exhaust noise have not been forgotten and to ask how the trials of approaches such as noise cameras have progressed.
It is widely acknowledged that excessive exhaust noise is a country-wide problem, affecting not only the countryside, particularly the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but also the urban environment. The serious health impacts of this problem were identified by your predecessor Chris Grayling in June 2019 when he stated that:
“Makes lives an absolute misery”
‘Noise pollution makes the lives of people in communities across Britain an absolute misery and has very serious health impacts.
This is why I am determined to crack down on the nuisance drivers who blight our streets. Technology will help us lead the way in making our towns and cities quieter, and I look forward to seeing how these exciting new cameras could work.’
I understand that the technology to which he referred was the trial of noise cameras, which are already used on the Continent in cities such as Paris and now are being trialled in Chelsea. I would be grateful if you could inform our Society how the trials are progressing, if there are any proposals to roll out their use across the country and, if so, whether this will be through the relevant county highways agency or through your ministry.
Rye has a particular problem with weekend motorcyclists as it is a convenient midway stopping-off point on round trips from London and the Home Counties. It is reached by roads that are not heavily trafficked, flat and must seem very attractive to the motorcycle enthusiast.
Excessive noise throughout the weekends
The particular geography of Rye means that the five roads that feed into the town all join the road around the town and its central raised historic core, which means that both the lower suburbs and the Citadel are disturbed by the excessive noise throughout the weekends starting as early as seven in the morning.
If further practical trials of this technology are needed, I’d like to suggest that your ministry looks at Rye as a suitable location as all five roads into the town have straight sections suitable for the camera technology.
I have read that the UK has one of most stringent series of regulations in force to control both construction standards for, and the sale of, replacement silencers for motorcycles, but this does not seem to have resolved the problem. It appears to be exacerbated by some motorcyclists fitting inappropriate or altered silencers, mainly on older machines.
Whilst it is acknowledged that this is an enforcement matter, the evaluation of noise levels is a subjective issue which is not made easier when the current noise standard of 80db is set for a machine running at normal speed when a machine with a fully open throttle can easily reach 100db.
A health issue as well as noise
A police officer listening to a static motorcycle running at a normal throttle in a car park would be evaluating a very different animal when it’s an old machine with an illegal exhaust on the open road at full throttle.
As part of your approach to tackling this persistent problem I would urge you to look again at how the legal levels are set and the level of fines for infringement, particularly the fitting of illegal exhausts.
I must stress that this is not just a nuisance issue but a health issue and one that, as we hopefully emerge from lockdown, will only get worse.
Your reassurance that this problem has not been forgotten and news of how your Department will tackle it will be of interest not only to our members but to all the residents of Rye and the surrounding villages, through which the roads leading to Rye are found in the constituencies of both Sally-Ann Hart and Hugh Merriman.
Chairman Rye Conservation Society
Image Credits: UK Parliament https://members.parliament.uk/member/1582/portrait.