Couple loses battle to silence 'noise nuisance' on Luas line
Published 06/03/2010 | 05:00
A COUPLE has lost a High Court action claiming they have been exposed to serious noise nuisance from the Luas light rail which runs close to their home.
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy yesterday dismissed an application requiring the Luas operators to erect a barrier against the noise allegedly endured by Paula and Vincent Smyth, of Cambridge Terrace, Leeson Park, Dublin. The judge found they "had not established nuisance".
They brought the proceedings against the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) and Veolia Transport Ireland Ltd, while the Attorney General was a notice party to the case.
They claimed the enjoyment of their home was "severely undermined and compromised" due to noise since the line began operating in July 2004.
A tram passed their home 330 times between 5.30am and 12.30am every weekday and 254 times daily at the weekend.
They claimed they were unable to enjoy their garden or hold a conversation when a tram passed and were unable to sleep properly.
Their bedroom faced on to an embankment and they regularly had to sleep with the windows shut and with earplugs.
They sought injunctions restraining the defendants from operating the Luas in a manner that causes a noise nuisance and requiring them to erect an appropriate barrier to reduce the noise. They also sought damages.
The defendants denied the claims and contended the Luas was being operated in accordance with the terms of the Transport (Dublin Light Rail) acts of 1996 and 2001. They also pleaded the operation of the Luas under those acts could not, as a matter of law, give rise to the nuisance alleged.
During the 16-day hearing, the High Court was told the Smyths believed, at the planning stages of the Luas in the late 1990s, that special noise reduction screens would be erected at certain sensitive locations where the light rail would pass. Based on an undertaking by the RPA, they had a legitimate expectation measures would be put in place to reduce noise levels to within acceptable levels, it was claimed.
Ms Justice Laffoy described the case as "difficult" and said, despite the fact the RPA had failed to comply with a requirement to set day and night-time noise levels, there were no circumstances in which the Smyths could be entitled to the relief they sought. She said the issue of noise had been dealt with at a public inquiry and had not been challenged.
By operating within noise levels predicted in an environmental impact statement, the rail is being operated without infringing the comfortable and healthy enjoyment of the Smyths' home, she said.