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Question
Posted by: Zara Lee | 2019/03/06

Neighbour revs/idles car for 5 to 15 minutes outside the main ventilation area of our house

I am writing to ask for some information with regard to the environmental and noise pollution laws concerning motor vehicles. Our neighbour has a 1992 VW Jetta 2 Cli, Automatic. In the early hours of the morning (5.30am, 6.30am) and often late at night (10pm, 12pm,2am), their car makes a loud noise for a period of 5-15minutes when they start the car. I am not sure if the car has been modified or if it has been properly maintained. However this noise can also be heard by the neighbour on our right hand side and the house across the street. During this period whilst the car starts and makes the revving noise ( I have an audio recording), it emits alot of fumes. These fumes fill our home and can be smelt from the opposite end of our house too. The car also makes a loud sound when it drives up and down our street. My mother is in remission for cancer and my father has numerous ailments. I also have 3yr old twins who were born prematurely and have been suffering from respiratory problems. The noise from the car, wakes the babies up and the fumes fill the babies bedroom and our house. My children also cannot play in the garden because the neighbours car randomly comes and goes and fills the air with fumes. We also cannot leave our windows open unattended. I have consulted many online VW groups and everyone seems to agree that this is not a normal sound ( I sent the recording). We contacted metro police but they say that as the neighbour revs/idles the car on private property, they cannot help us. Kindly advice on the laws with regards to environmental pollution ( the fumes are affecting our health) and the noise pollution ( noise which is psychologically stressful) and how one would go about filing a complaint.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEnviroHealth expert
- 2019/03/08

Have you spoken to your neighbour about this? Because this should be the first step. Write down your concerns in a letter as you have here, and ask your other neighbours to also comment and sign the letter. Don't be hostile when you confront your neighbour, or they are likely to push back. Be pleasant and polite; say you are pleading with them to deal with this problem as a good neighbour. They need to get the car checked by a mechanic/roadworthy centre. You could even consider offering to contribute to the cost of getting it fixed (not ideal I know, but you want results!) If they refuse, then report them to the local traffic department or  Arrive Alive (0861 400 800) for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. It is likely unroadworthy, and/or has been altered (often illegal), if making so much noise and fumes. Unfortunately I don’t think the noise and air pollution laws will be much help, however it is illegal in most places (each municipality has their own bylaws for this) to make noise outside normal work hours. It is also illegal for vehicles to make noise above a certain level. See 3 (i) and (j) Noise Control Regulations ito Section 25, Environment Conservation Act. http://www.enviroleg.co.za/acts/Environment%20Conservation/REGS/154-92%20Noise%20control%20regulations.pdf

Although the fumes are undesirable health-wise and you shouldn’t have to tolerate them, the stress and lost sleep from the noise are likely to have a greater negative impact on your family’s health.


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