EMA wants feedback on changes to noise pollution rules

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Environmental Management Authority of TT (EMA) logo

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is inviting the public, including NGOs, businesses, and stakeholders, to submit written comments on the proposed amendments to the Noise Pollution Control Rules, 2001(NPCR).

The environmental conservation organisation made the call via an advertisement in the newspaper on Monday as well as via its Facebook page.

The advertisement said, in accordance with Section 51 of the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05, the Planning and Development Minister directed the EMA to submit the legislative policy brief for the proposed changes to the NPCR for public feedback.

The EMA said in keeping with section 28(1)(b) of the act, it established an administrative record including a copy of the brief, a written description of the proposed action, the major environmental issues under consideration, which it believes would assist the public in developing a reasonable understanding of those issues and the EMA’s reasons for the proposed action.

The notice did not state the proposed amendments but added that the administrative record was available to the public for viewing at the EMA’s website (www.ema.co.tt) between 8 am and 4 pm from March 04 – April 12.

The record is also available at EMA’s office in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Tobago, as well as at the 14 municipal corporations.

The 34-page brief says that noise levels have increased exponentially in recent years.

It says various sources and types of sound may be emitted and contribute to noise pollution.

Those include Carnival, steelpan and drums, fireworks and bamboo bursting, offshore noise and religious sounds (call to prayer).

The document added that the management and control of noise would be directly dependent on the type and source of the sound.

It says, “Currently, the NPCR does not distinguish between the varying noise sources and treats all noise similarly. This creates instances where application and enforcement of the NPCR is impractical, given the nature of the source of the sound.”

On religious sounds, it said the Muslim call to prayer, the adhan, is sounded five times daily, signifying to believers that it is time to gather at the mosque and pray.

This aspect of Islam dates back to the origins of the religion. Today, the adhan is typically broadcast over loudspeakers affixed to the outside of mosques. In a plural society, this may be viewed by some as disruptive, especially the first call, which occurs for less than five minutes between 5 am and 6 am.”

“The exemption in Rule 7 (a) of the NPCR does not apply because the sound occurs before 6 am. Also the use of a loudspeaker means that this sound is now amplified. It is recommended that the NPCR expressly state that this activity does not fall under its remit due to its religious and short duration. An amendment to Rules 7 of the NPCR is accordingly required.”