On 22nd September, the first ever UK council-run pilot for high-tech ‘noise cameras’ were installed and made live on Sloane Street and Pont Street. Drivers exceeding the legal decibel limit face fines of up to £1,000. In serious or repeated offences, the council may seize the vehicle causing persistent noise nuisance. These expensive supercars are superior in speed and acceleration with their owners dying to showcase them on the iconic streets of Kensington and Chelsea. The best way to attract this attention is with the feral roar of the engine whilst forming a racetrack through West London.
The Kensington and Chelsea council have taken action after 10 years of complaints from local residents. The council were the first to introduce PSPO-issued fines to minimise the disruption, however these were not a sufficient scare for the repeat offenders. The transport police stepped up their patrols to combat this, however round-the-clock surveillance was needed. Having been rejected from the government trial scene, they pushed to install these acoustic cameras and run them directly through the council using the Public Space Protection Order 2018.
The project was instigated by the council led by Soph McVeigh, Ward Cllr, and Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Transport Cllr, with the support of the Cadogan estates and funded by the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy. They achieved this using payments by developers who are required to put some money aside for local communities in the areas where they build.
Installed in the worst reported areas, local residents were delighted and relieved at the council’s action to eradicate this problem. Before the lockdown, the noise pollution was a seasonal occurrence and most frequently reported in August. However, now it is all year round with repeat offenders living in the area rather than tourists seeking a thrill. Between June and August 2020 there were 35 independent reports of nuisance noise. Local resident, who had worked closely with the project, said, “we are all incredibly grateful” in thanking the cllrs.
The acoustic cameras use cutting edge technology to ensure that no violation will go undetected. Developed by Steve Gosling with 24 Acoustics, the cameras record detailed footage 5 seconds before and after a filtered sound signal over 80db is detected.
The council is now working with Philip Richardson, Area Senior Officer of the Noise and Nuisance Team, closely to ensure the technology is working efficiently. Finally, peace and quiet has returned to the borough.