John Connell founded the Noise Abatement Society in 1959 when he realised that there was no authority to turn to about noise complaints, that noise was in his words, ‘ the forgotten pollutant’.
Using all forms of the media, he waged a ceaseless campaign pointing out that excessive noise was destructive and harmful to society. The response from the public was enormous. He received sack after sack of mail from people whose lives were blighted by one form of noise or another, and who felt abandoned.
Prior to the 1959 elections, John called on the support of all 1,564 Parliamentary candidates to form legislation against noise and all but three backed him.
In 1960 the Noise Abatement Act was added to the statute books and for the first time, noise became a statutory nuisance.
Nothing is impossible
John Connell didn’t just talk about noise abatement, he also came up with extremely practical ideas to solve every day irritating noise problems… he was responsible for introducing rubber dustbin lids and plastic milk crates. He persuaded manufacturers to strive to reduce noise levels in their products so that the ‘quiet’ factor would become a selling point.
On larger noise issues, he campaigned for the re-siting of Heathrow airport to Foulness on the coast to reduce aircraft noise over densely populated areas which would also be the safer option. He even organised a Japanese consortium to pay for the scheme, but the Government of that time did not share his vision. He was a man ahead of his time.
He woke up Duncan Sandys MP, the then Aviation Minister, at his home in the middle of the night. Mr Sandys appeared at his doorway in pyjamas much to the delight of the awaiting press photographers. That showed the Minister very effectively what it was like to be kept awake by noisy aircraft at 2am in the morning. Night flights were soon stopped!
John’s practical approach still marks the basis from which Noise Abatement Society functions today, and the Society constantly seeks out solutions to noise problems.
The Noise Abatement Society today
The society is a leading authority and campaigner on all aspects of noise; consulted by, and working with government, industry and the public. It runs the UK’s only noise helpline offering free advice.