Saturday, October 11, 2014

Alarming Primeval Squawks at Random Intervals Sometimes for Several Hours Each Day

We live with nine parrots: five macaws, three African Greys, and a Goffin's Cockatoo. We know how loud parrots can be. Even when the doors and windows are closed we can still hear our parrots down the block. We know our neighbors can hear our parrots. It's a good thing we have good neighbors. One thing we simply can not imagine is living with a couple of hundred parrots.

Pity the poor people of Battisford, a little village with a population of 482 people, on Britain's east coast. 482 people. 500 parrots! This story, in its entirety, was published in the British tabloid Ipswich Star October 9, 2014 (italics added for emphasis):

Hundreds of parrots will have to be removed from a property after neighbours argued their “health and well being” had been affected by “unbearable” noise over five years. Sleep deprived residents in Battisford, near Stowmarket, believe the animals’ owner, Peter Hammond, has up to 500 of the birds.

Earlier today they won their case, when a retrospective application to keep the animals, as well as 10 gundogs, was dismissed by nine votes to one.

Mr Hammond’s daughter Angela Berry attended the Mid Suffolk District Council meeting in his place but declined to comment following the ruling. She defended keeping the animals and said her father has only up to 200 birds.

Mr Hammond will now have up to six months to challenge the decision.

Speaking after the meeting, Sarah Griffiths said it was an “enormous relief” for all the campaigners. In the hearing she claimed one neighbour had become so stressed because of the noise, described as “unbearable”, they had to have six months off work.

“The parrots, some of them macaws, emit what can only be described as alarming primeval squawks at random intervals sometimes for several hours each day,” she said.

“Every member of my family and most of our neighbours have suffered directly because of Mr Hammond’s hobby. We have gone to work exhausted and I have sent my children to school tired. We believe Mr Hammond’s hobby has devalued our area and compromised our health and well being.

“It is a noise that is cruel and completely unnecessary.”

Leader of Mid Suffolk, Derrick Haley, criticised the authority’s environmental health team for not measuring the noise from the objectors’ homes.

But David Harrold, a senior environmental protection officer at the council, said that would not have been appropriate. He said council recordings found the level of noise to be high enough to lead to a “loss of amenity” but not a “statutory nuisance” despite sound at night breaching World Health Organisation guidelines.

Mrs Berry said a 10-foot high, four-foot deep straw bale wall had been erected in 2013 and extended this year to dampen the parrots’ noise, some of which are kept in open aviaries.

The area, she argued, already has many other noises, including helicopters from Wattisham Airfield.

She said: “The list of complaints which have been offered to the parish council have not been substantiated in any way and some are beyond belief.”

One neighbour, Louise Ashman, spoke in support of Mr Hammond. She said it was “wonderful” to have someone who “dedicates his life” to the parrots, some of which are close to being classed as “endangered”. She also claimed that no more noise was made than local pig farms.

A RSPCA spokeswoman said it would not be able to help with moving the animals but could offer advice on the best way to do so.

Pigs? Parrots? Battisford sounds like a lovely place. Living with nine parrots, we can sympathize with the good people of Battisford, we really can. The village declared its independence from the United Kingdom, for a day, back in 1983. Wonder if they might try that route again?

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