Noise pollution getting out of hand
These days one must be careful about what one chooses to speak out about for the simple reason that it all too easy to be accused of being “out of step with the real issues that Bermuda is facing”. But considering that the 2022 Throne Speech addresses civic matters such as single-use plastics, electric vehicles and driving skills, I think that now is no worse of a time to address a civic matter that has been plaguing some residents in Somerset — as well as many other places on the island. The matter I wish to raise is Bermuda’s inadequate noise laws.
Let me provide a simple example. Sometime after 11pm on Saturday, October 22, I received a text message from my son, which read, “Is that you with the music or is it the boat club?” I texted in reply: “It’s the boat club. I have called the police twice already.” The next morning, I asked my other son if he was also woken up by the music. He replied that he was woken up just before midnight by bass vibrating loudly in his room. As for my wife and I, we were kept up until after 3am because of the music.
The October 22 incident was not an isolated one. West End Sailboat Club has been holding outdoor music parties since March of this year. When left to its own devices, the club will play music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Should it wish, the music can start at about 2pm and run well past midnight. And, if by some miracle the volume gets turned down, most likely owing to a police visit, it is not unusual for the volume to be turned back up an hour later.
It has not mattered that dozens of complaints have been made by residents of Boaz Island, Watford Bridge and Cavello Bay (Yes, more than quarter of a mile away). Despite numerous appeals and police visits, residents like me were once again kept up at 12.30am last Friday night because West End Sailboat Club was blasting Mad Cobra’s Flex (Time To Have Sex).
The boat club is not alone in this matter. This year, charter boats have parked at Watford Bridge, sometimes playing profane music at eardrum-busting levels in the early afternoon and in the early hours of the morning. There have been raft-ups in Mangrove Bay, where residents have been forced to listen to music all night, only to be greeted with even more excessive volume at the crack of dawn. Heck, if you want to erect a tower of speakers and host an outdoor party in the centre of a neighbourhood, you just might get away with it!
Sadly, appeals to people about changing their conduct often fall on deaf ears (pun intended). The boat club, for example, has continued its behaviour even with the full knowledge that it is disrupting students who are trying to study. I must ask, would the club’s executive permit this in their own neighbourhoods? We all know the answer to this question.
Obviously, some people just don’t care unless there is a material penalty involved — this is the crux of the problem. Unlike our motor laws, the Summary Offences Act 2010 does not empower the police to issue tickets on the spot for noise infractions. If the police can issue tickets for speeding and driving down a third lane, surely the Government can amend the Summary Offences Act so that tickets can be issued to excessive noise offenders.