Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on June 19 to approve the second reading of amendments to the Protection Against Environmental Noise Act, that ban noise – including from construction work – near residential buildings and other places seven days a week from 2pm to 4pm and from 11pm to 8am.
Fines for individuals range from 500 leva (about 250 euro) and may go up to 6000 leva for repeat offences. For juristic persons, the maximum fine will be 12 000 leva.
The amendments give greater powers to police, enabling them to shut down noisy facilities without waiting for an opinion from other institutions.
However, the restrictions will not apply to railway stations, airports, bus stations, seaports and the use of disaster warning systems.
An amendment tabled by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) was accepted, also excluding the legislation from covering religious houses of worship.
MRF MP Yordan Tsonev that there was “no way” to outlaw Christian churches from pealing their bells at midnight at Easter, nor in the morning before 8am. Other religions also had ways of producing sound, he said.
United Patriots co-leader Valeri Simeonov – who tabled the bill and has made a trademark of a summer habit of “raids” on noisy nightclubs at Sunny Beach – said that houses of worship should comply with Ministry of Health regulations.
Tsonev replied: “There is no way to put a potentiometer on a bell”.
Simeonov said that the law up to now had been ineffective, but now if there was a breach, if a restaurant refused to turn down the noise, it would be sealed shut.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party criticised the amendments as impracticable and out of tune with the real conditions in the country.
BSP MP Hristo Prodanov said that his party’s own proposal, for a ban on noise after midnight, was more appropriate.
“In the summer months – June, July, August – it should be up to midnight because, first, eight hours is enough time for complete silence, so that one can sleep, recover, and the other is that in Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast, in many towns and villages, there are places that wait for those three months of the year to make some money, make a profit and pay taxes to municipalities and the state.
“The other thing that worries us is that the law will not work, for example, the control bodies that will check compliance with these regulations. You yourself see how police cannot cope with noise from Roma neighbourhoods, and from places of entertainment, discos, and now it is proposed that it be controlled by state inspectors. If the police cannot cope, how will the state inspectors cope?” Prodanov said.
(Photo: Pablo EG/freeimages.com)