Pipe Down; One Week to Save Our Greatest Tradition from Europe's Noise Police

By Oakeshott, Isabel | Daily Mail (London), March 6, 2002 | Go to article overview

Pipe Down; One Week to Save Our Greatest Tradition from Europe's Noise Police


Oakeshott, Isabel, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: ISABEL OAKESHOTT

DOWN the ages, the sound of the pipes has roused armies, marked feasts and festivals and heralded the birth and death of kings.

But the stirring sound - as synonymous with Scotland as tartan and shortbread - may become a thing of the past if Eurocrats have their way.

New proposals by the European Commission aimed at protecting people from excessive noise aim to reduce the maximum exposure level from 90 decibels to 87.

That compares with 130 decibels when a piper is in full flow.

The Eurocrats claim that the measures are necessary to prevent harmful noise pollution.

But opponents have launched a campaign to block the move amid fears that it could silence the pipes in Scotland for the first time since Culloden.

Although the UK already has tough noise regulations, Eurocrats want to reduce the upper limit by 50 per cent. Instead of taking an average for noise output over a week, they plan to measure noise levels on a one-off basis - leaving the future of the bagpipes under threat.

The proposals have already passed the first hurdle, after being approved in a vote by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee. Next week, MEPs will vote on the issue in full parliamentary session in Strasbourg.

Tory Euro MP Struan Stevenson said: 'Anyone playing in a pipe band would have to wear earplugs to comply with this daft directive. So we have one week to save Scotland's bagpipes.

'If MEPs from other parties don't reverse their previous committee vote and support my campaign, the skirl of the pipes may be consigned to history.' The UK Health and Safety Executive supports the proposal of weekly averaging.

This would protect businesses such as pubs - where music is often exceptionally loud on one or two nights a week - from prosecution.

However, Labour and LibDem MEPs voted against the move.

Mr Stevenson said: 'It is not just bagpipes that would be affected. …

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