Wales

Couple in court over crowing of Newtown cockerels

Cockerel
Image caption Cockerel crowing is unpredictable and high-pitched, the court at Welshpool was told

A couple's sleep was disturbed by the "piercing and incessant" crowing of their neighbours' cockerels, magistrates in Powys have heard.

The court at Welshpool heard that monitoring devices measured 74 crowing incidents in seven minutes.

The cockerels' owners, Roy and Valerie Rylands, of Newtown, Powys, are appealing against an abatement notice issued by the county council last year.

The civil case, which follows complaints by neighbours, continues.

The court heard that Mr and Mrs Rylands kept "about 52 hens" and five cockerels.

Powys council conducted a investigation following the complaint last summer and a "tamper-proof" recording device was set up in the bedroom of their neighbour, a Mr and Mrs Morgan.

On 10 August 2010, between 0622 and 0636 BST there was noted to be "frequent, incessant crowing at a level which was piercing and intrusive".

The following day between 0609 and 0616 BST, there were 74 separate incidents of cockerel crowing in seven minutes, peaking at 54 decibels.

On 16 August at about 0242 BST, there were 18 incidents in four minutes, peaking at 59 decibels, and at 0413 BST the same day another 26 incidents in three minutes.

The court heard that on 21 September an environmental health officer sat in his car near the Rylands' property with his driver's window open.

In 20 minutes he recorded 112 different cockerel crows.

The officer went into the Morgans' bedroom and, with the window open, noted the cockerel crows were "intrusive, incessant and sufficient to disturb sleep".

'High-pitched'

Jonathan Salmon, for the council, told the court that the World Health Organisation had issued guidance that noise should not exceed 60 decibels on the outside of a window.

Mr Salmon said: "One of the problems with cockerel noise is it is unpredictable. It's a high-pitched sound and it's often at a high level."

He described such noise as the "rural equivalent to the burglar alarm that keeps going off at night" in urban areas.

He said the council received complaints about cockerel crowing each year, adding that "this is a genuine problem experienced by many people around the country".

Mr Salmon said in this civil case the "burden of proof is upon them as complainants, not upon us" and it was up to the Rylands to prove no statutory noise nuisance existed.

'Competition effect'

The court also heard from the man who conducted the recording, environmental health technical officer Daniel Stykuc.

He said one cockerel crowing could set another off, creating a "competition effect."

Some recordings of the cockerels were played to the court.

The Rylands' barrister, Paulinus Barnes, who cross-examined Mr Stykuc, said noise on the recordings indicated someone opening a window.

He said: "The only possible explanation for that is that whoever was operating the recording equipment wanted to maximise the noise level being recorded."

Mr Barnes also suggested the recordings were made in a spare room and not Mr and Mrs Morgan's bedroom.

The case resumes on Thursday in Llandrindod Wells.

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