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(@persephone)
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Posted by: @persephone

Local Councils have the power to 'create' specific 'conditions' for specific installations which means any installation would eventually get the approval of Councils. For instance, my local council 'created' a unique 'condition' for my neighbour's ASHP just to approve the application: an at-source noise measurement (adjacent to the ASHP) to 'predict' the sound level 1m from the facade of my house. Then, based on this 'prediction', 'to predict' the NR value inside my bedroom

@jamespa I appreciate your comments about the power of local councils to create conditions that would suit the developers. I also wonder if you have any comments about the condition that my local council imposed for approving my neighbour's application.  


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @persephone

Posted by: @persephone

Local Councils have the power to 'create' specific 'conditions' for specific installations which means any installation would eventually get the approval of Councils. For instance, my local council 'created' a unique 'condition' for my neighbour's ASHP just to approve the application: an at-source noise measurement (adjacent to the ASHP) to 'predict' the sound level 1m from the facade of my house. Then, based on this 'prediction', 'to predict' the NR value inside my bedroom

@jamespa I appreciate your comments about the power of local councils to create conditions that would suit the developers. I also wonder if you have any comments about the condition that my local council imposed for approving my neighbour's application.  

Im familiar only with planning law in England.  Scottish law is often very similar, but equally often not identical.

in England Councils have a straight choice.  They can

  • refuse a planning application or
  • they can approve it with such conditions as they see fit.  The conditions are often unique to the development because each development presents unique circumstances. 

They MUST do one of the above.

The decision is based on the Local Plan and 'other material considerations'.  Other material considerations includes, amongst other things, the National Planning Policy framework (NPPF) set out by Government.  The NPPF applies a presumption in favour of sustainable development and other guidance, to which the LPA must have regard.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development generally means that they will try to approve with conditions rather than refuse where possible.  The conditions are designed to ensure that the development is acceptable in planning terms (ie in terms of the Local plan and other material considerations).

It is far from true to say that any development will eventually get approved.  Many times planning applications go through several iterations before being approved, and many are never approved.

This post was modified 3 months ago by Mars

   
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(@persephone)
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Posted by: @jamespa

It is far from true to say that any development will eventually get approved

I meant if the authority want to approve any odd installation, they will find a way to approve it. 

 


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @persephone

Posted by: @jamespa

It is far from true to say that any development will eventually get approved

I meant if the authority want to approve any odd installation, they will find a way to approve it. 

 

In the sense that approval is at the discretion of the authority, yes.  But if they have ignored their local plan and other material considerations then the decision can be challenged via a JR.

Similarly they could refuse any odd installation that they want to and that can be changed by an appeal.

As soon as you introduce discretion there is the inevitable possibility of rogue decisions, which is why the law both fetters the discretion and provides mechanisms to challenge.

How else can decisions be made?

 

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(@persephone)
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Posted by: @jamespa

I don't think you are suggesting that the heat pump is injurious to your health,

I mean the noise is injurious to my health. The authorities, however, have their own interpretations of the level of 'harm'. For instance, 'mental' issues such as anxiety or brain fog or the 'physical' health issues such as constant palpitation that happens because of exposure to noise is of no importance to them. 


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @persephone

Posted by: @jamespa

I don't think you are suggesting that the heat pump is injurious to your health,

I mean the noise is injurious to my health. The authorities, however, have their own interpretations of the level of 'harm'. For instance, 'mental' issues such as anxiety or brain fog or the 'physical' health issues such as constant palpitation that happens because of exposure to noise is of no importance to them. 

If that is the case and your doctors reports confirm that it is the noise from the heat pump that is injuring your health, then you could perhaps take legal advice. 'Injurious to health' may constitute statutory nuisance.  

What I don't know is whether that means 'injurious to the health of the reasonable man', or 'injurious to the health of the potential claimant (who may have a special condition)'.  This, I suspect, may be crucial to the case, which is why you might need legal advice. 

Although you wont want to hear this, I would personally hope that it means injurious to health of the reasonable man.  Otherwise someone could move in next door to you, who has some rare health condition that you know nothing about, and you could be forced to do something, or stop doing something, at your own expense, because of their rare health condition.  That would, in my view, be unreasonable.  However the law is not always straightforward!

Local authorities (in England) have a statutory duty to investigate reasonable claims of nuisance.  If you had a doctors report and legal advice that you have a claim, you might stand a chance.  Alternatively (in England) its a claim you can pursue yourself.

 


   
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Abernyte
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In Scotland you clearly can seek Interdict if you feel that you can prove the case. Good legal advice would be well advised.

To get right up to date in the legal sense then Fearn v Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery [2023] UKSC 4 is very interesting.

The Supreme Court in Fearn made it clear that the English Court of Appeal was wrong in its approach when it decided the appeal based on whether the Tate was making an unreasonable use of its land by operating the viewing gallery. The correct approach was to consider whether the Tate was using its land in a common and ordinary way. The judge in Fearn used the example of a building constructed with unusually thin walls. He said that so long as the offending party was using its land for ordinary purposes, the neighbouring proprietor would have to put up with the noise. It was not a defence that the neighbouring property in Fearn was sensitive to nuisance because of its makeup (in this case large glass walls), so long as the owners were using their property for its common and ordinary use. While this is an English case, it is persuasive. It remains to be seen to what extent the Scottish courts will follow the reasoning in Fearn v Tate.

 


   
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(@jamespa)
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It would be interesting to know if there has been any successful claim for nuisance related to domestic oil flues, gas flues or ASHPs.  Its clearly a reasonable heat ones home, and all of these ways of heating ones home have potential effects on neighbours.  If I were defending a claim of nuisance related to an ASHP, I might be tempted to argue further ie that its reasonable to heat ones home in a way that doesn't destroy the climate and thus, so long as I have taken reasonable steps to minimise the effect on my neighbours, I am using my land in a reasonable way if I heat my home using an ASHP. 

Not sure how that would play out, which is why it would be interesting to know if there is any case history related to domestic heating.  However its clearly an argument that could be made and which can only make it more difficult to sustain a nuisance claim where the neighbour has located the ASHP having regard to the possible effect on others.  

Now suppose that the claimant was seeking interdict, could a judge reasonably make an order the effect of which is to prevent you heating your house and hot water?

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by JamesPa
This post was modified 3 months ago by Mars

   
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(@elton)
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There are plenty of successful noise nuisance claims in a domestic context on all sorts of systems - boilers, air con, ASHP. ASHP in a domestic context is new though and the DESNZ report makes it clear that "LPAs expressed concerns that they would not have capacity to cope with the increase in ASHP planning applications and noise complaints that would arise under current PDR requirements, if ASHPs were deployed on a larger scale." 

The issue with ASHP noise is covered well in many reports including DESNZ's (and CIEH, and Welsh government etc etc etc etc). Its largely about tonality. Other issues specific to ASHPs = vibration and cumulative noise impact. 42db(A) of steamy boiler gush has a very different capacity to cause nuisance that 42dB(A) of low frequency humming from an ASHP. Low frequency noises travel & penetrate further and the IoA's low frequency noise annoyance report and EHPA reports both cover the specific issues with LFN. One reason why we have MCS020 and CIEH and IOA took the position that 42bD(A) is too high. Tonality is also taken into account as part of BS4142 and, I think BS8233, with penalties applied for it. Tonality matters - it is a material factor and heat pumps can rate badly on tonality (and penetrating frequencies and virbation etc etc)

In short, in can reasonably be said, based on evidence, that ASHP noise/vibration has the capacity to be more of a nuisance than other noises at an equivalent Db(A). 

In terms of the environment vs noise nuisance, WHO and other acknowledge noise nuisance as risk to health. Heat pumps are on the market that wouldn't cause such issues - but sadly warehouses are stacked with noisy old Samsungs that do and they'll be rolled out for years to come. It is not environment vs noise nuisance. Policy should force industry/installer/owners to select quiet pumps and to fit them in appropriate locations ensure they avoid noise nuisance. This would also drive industry improvement.

In essence:

1. LPAs have a strong appetite to enforce noise nuisance and are sighted on ASHPs. Absolutely, env. health officers and planning inspectors have ordered that noisy pumps be removed.

2. Policy on noise nuisance should be tightened specifically for heat pumps given the specific issues with noise from them. This will drive industry improvement and better consumer choices.

3. "It's reasonable to heat one's home in a way that doesn't destroy the climate". Yes, as long as it doesn't cause noise nuisance.

The argument that it's environment vs noise - both matter hugely and the simple answer is to tighten noise regs, driving industry improvement and quieter pumps to be chosen. It is no defence to install something that downgrades a neighbourhood. 

if a neighbour complains about nuisance noise, the owner should not - as I've seen on one post on this forum - immediately go on the defensive. If they read the evidence, listen to their neighbour's concern and fix the issue through sound masking, changing or moving the unit they are doing the environment and the heat pump movement a favour in not tainting the technology.

 

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by Elton

   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @elton

LPAs expressed concerns that they would not have capacity to cope with the increase in ASHP planning applications and noise complaints that would arise under current PDR requirements, if ASHPs were deployed on a larger scale." 

Are we sure the LPA comment was not just a reflection of the fact that they are under pressure on all sides from Government cuts, and so they are naturally resistant to any change?  I dont think we actually know.

The planning application problem could be fixed by loosening PD rules; we know that ASHPs MUST be deployed on a larger scale so the question has to be how not whether.

I wonder how many noise complaints they receive.  I did ask my district Council - they told me that they had received just one complaint about an ASHP installed under PD rights in the past 3 years, which they judged not to be meritorious so it never went to enforcement or to court.  Thats hardly a lot, although of course the roll out has barely begun.

Im not ignoring the comment, just trying to explore the way to deal with it given the overriding necessity of fixing climate change.

Posted by: @elton

There are plenty of successful noise nuisance claims in a domestic context on all sorts of systems - boilers, air con, ASHP.

have you got any case references, it would be interesting to read them. 

I did ask my district Council - they told me that they had received just one complaint about an ASHP installed under PD rights in the past 3 years, which they judged not to be meritorious so it never went to enforcement or to court.

Posted by: @elton

Heat pumps are on the market that wouldn't cause such issue

Quietmark certify a proportion of heat pumps they claim on noise power and tonality - relevant or not?

Posted by: @elton

- but sadly warehouses are stacked with noisy old Samsungs

you have mentioned Samsung several times, are they uniquely bad or are there several manufacturers with old pumps in warehouses? 

It must be said that Samsung Gen 6 seems still to be going a long time after they released the HTQuiet model - did they make too many or do Samsung have a problem (for now) because their HTQ model is over the England PD limit of 0.6cu m?

 

Posted by: @elton

 

The argument that it's environment vs noise - both matter hugely and the simple answer is to tighten noise regs,

How does one tighten them in such a way as not to increase (materially) costs and make it all too difficult for the consumer.  The risk is that every single installation needs a custom measurement, which is clearly totally impractical given that we need to install 1.6M heat pumps per year. 

The obvious way systemically is to require manufacturers to declare a tonality value in addition to the noise power.  Is that practical if done at a UK level, or a EU level?  Is the UK big enough to do it alone or does it need EU might?

Posted by: @elton

if a neighbour complains about nuisance noise, the owner should not - as I've seen on one post on this forum - immediately go on the defensive. If they read the evidence, listen to their neighbour's concern

I would agree that far

Posted by: @elton

and fix the issue through sound masking, changing or moving the unit

Possibly this is where we would depart.  Some people will complain about anything (and particularly any change), however unreasonable the complaint.  Im not sure that everyone should be compelled to do things just because the neighbour complains, but if the neighbour has a sound case then certainly I would agree. 

 

Im not saying things dont need to change, but it needs to be thought through not a knee jerk and there is scant example of that.  Do we think our government is capable of such nuance and sophistication?  Perhaps its best left to the EU (which has both the market size and more technical resources to deal with the complexities) to force manufacturers to change? 

Have we really got the technical capability in Government to lead on this level of regulation?  I'm personally (sadly) doubtful we have as there don't appear to be a whole load of engineers or physical scientists recruited to the Civil Service (and certainly not to Government), judging by what we hear from them.

 

This post was modified 3 months ago 22 times by JamesPa

   
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(@elton)
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@jamespa 

Wish I understood better how to quote posts. Sorry. Here goes.

 

1. LPAs concerned about scale of issues.

If LPAs canvassed as part of the report stated they are worried then they are worried. EH teams will be looking at the line from CIEH which is clear and CIEH have lobbied for the dB(A) limit to be lowered .. and proposals are for it to be (to 35dB(A)) in rural areas. This isn't just cuts & musings.

Yes ASHPs must be deployed on a large scale. Weakening PD rules would absolutely guarantee the rollout fails. No incentive to improve noise standards, install properly or in a suitable location. There are already quite a few dodgy installs out there, add to that a wild west hotch potch of cheapy pumps bolted to every bedroom wall and pretty soon you'll have the next scandal & technology being tainted. NZW rub their hands every time standards are dropped and not enforced, leading to an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and articles in the mail. Tightening noise regs to drive industry improvement, installer standards and good choices is the key. installers are starting to advertise on the basis of low noise now. Saw Baxi do this the other week and another I can't remember the name of.  Good to see this being acknowledged as an issue by installers as it has been by govt.

2. Plenty of cases

EH deal with these things all the time, oil burner flues etc etc and ASHPs, air con, but on shops/factories/schools (an example being the Reepham heat pumps) not so much domestic as the rollout (like you say) has not taken hold yet domestically. And where it has it is more likely on larger detached homes & not in tightly packed urban areas (I think the Nesta survey that shows 1/6 owners unhappy with noise then glosses it over states this as a limitation). I'm down south and down know the Peak District well but assume its 1. not densely packed 2. small ASHP figures 3. it'll be the wealther, larger homes. Hence so few complaints thus far.

3. Quietmark

Yes, that's good and it's good to see that this has profile rather than noise being considered a blanket "myth" - something that has damaged the credibility of heat pumps. One huge problem with MCS (that DESNZ acknowledge) is that there's no tonality measure. Anything that includes/adjusts for tonality is alright with me guv. Time to send the older/warehouse pumps through the quietmark standards and bin those that don't make the grade.

4. Warehouses stacked with xyzs

Just using them as an example of a non-specialist manufacturer with some noisy tat in their portfolio - sure they have quiet new ones too. I'm sure they are not alone.

 

5. Env v noise

Do it and industry will adapt. They'll repurpose or recycle the older ones, or they'll will be fitted where it won't cause nuisance and will accord with tighter rules. Larger homes etc. Its perfectly possible. Big time agree with tonality measure, as do the govt.

6. Owner immediately on defensive

Thanks, yes this happens too often. Driven by "it's a myth" which it unhelpful and has driven blind denial. Those who don't at least very seriously consider the neighbour's concerns do the movement a huge disservice.

7. Some complain at anything

The recent Welsh PD report states: "Further work is required to determine if the current permitted noise target is adequate to deal with
protection of quality of life, cumulative impacts of multiple units, tonality, directionality, intermittency and variation in noise generated over the seasons and at different heat loads; also to better understand and improve the public perception of noise from ASHPs through guidance and education. "

In the first instance we need to believe people and investigate their issues, or we are going to end up with a scandal and the tech tainted. The DESNZ report is good in this regard. It is a professional, well-researched report without the damaging Jan Rosenow "myth myth myth" tinge. It looks into emerging issues in the UK context (and we have a context - this isn't France, Norway with 55% detached homes and freezing climate etc) and rather than denying them with a big sticker over them saying "let's do 600k a year" it approaches and addresses them. Which is why we see 35db(A) proposal for rural areas and tonality measure etc.

The first go-to if someone complains is not "some people complain at everything", its "I believe you, let me understand what you are saying". This is where things have gone wrong. The neighbour should absolutely not need a sound case. See Welsh Govt comment - it is not a well understood area. A muttering from a neighbour of "bit noisy isn't it?" should be addressed with the utmost concern for the sake of sustainability of rollout.

This post was modified 3 months ago by Elton

   
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(@elton)
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Posted by: @jamespa

Posted by: @persephone

Posted by: @jamespa

I don't think you are suggesting that the heat pump is injurious to your health,

I mean the noise is injurious to my health. The authorities, however, have their own interpretations of the level of 'harm'. For instance, 'mental' issues such as anxiety or brain fog or the 'physical' health issues such as constant palpitation that happens because of exposure to noise is of no importance to them. 

If that is the case and your doctors reports confirm that it is the noise from the heat pump that is injuring your health, then you could perhaps take legal advice. 'Injurious to health' may constitute statutory nuisance.  

What I don't know is whether that means 'injurious to the health of the reasonable man', or 'injurious to the health of the potential claimant (who may have a special condition)'.  This, I suspect, may be crucial to the case, which is why you might need legal advice. 

Although you wont want to hear this, I would personally hope that it means injurious to health of the reasonable man.  Otherwise someone could move in next door to you, who has some rare health condition that you know nothing about, and you could be forced to do something, or stop doing something, at your own expense, because of their rare health condition.  That would, in my view, be unreasonable.  However the law is not always straightforward!

Local authorities (in England) have a statutory duty to investigate reasonable claims of nuisance.  If you had a doctors report and legal advice that you have a claim, you might stand a chance.  Alternatively (in England) its a claim you can pursue yourself.

 

WHO recognise noise nuisance as dangerous to health and IoA, CIEH and many others recognise low frequency noise as particularly disturbing, and DESNZ and a host of others recognise that heat pump tonality can be a specific problem.

The Welsh Govt's Phase 2 ASHP PD noise report brilliantly puts forwards loads of recommendations in the exec summary then at the end caps it off by essentially saying you can't enact them with a statement saying "but hey dudes, none of us understand the effect of this kind of noise so it needs a lot more research". At this point in time, in the UK context more work is needed on what is a nuisance level. And if some in the population -  a fair chunk - have a certain threshold then that needs to be taken into account, and possibly minorities with niche conditions need consideration too if there is an easy fix. My understanding of Persephone's case is that its a complex mix of clumsy local authority action, possible vested interest, taking no account of tonality, and a cheapy & nasty pump and install (uh-oh, yes its a crappy back-of-warehouse Samsung with vicious tonality). It might cost just a few quid to provide an adequate fix. Surely that is within someone's grasp to enact/enforce?

Salford Uni are doing bits on this. There are lots of misaligned standards and opinions eg BS8233/BS4142 vs MCS020 and MCS020's 42dB(A) which was contentious and has zero real evidential basis other than its a straight compromise between installers and safeguarders.

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