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Noise Report: January 2023

After an eventful October, noise complaints tailed off to set up a quiet(ish) end to the year that has so far continued into 2023. xxxx

The chart shows only complaints that were notified to this web site. These are a fraction of the total reported to the University of Bristol, but they’re usually indicative of the general trend.

UoB’s own statistics (see table) show that October was surprisingly lively, with twice as many complaints as any other month:

More worrying, UoB’s total of 227 noise complaints for the first half of 2022-23 roughly equals full-year totals before the covid pandemic.

This year’s numbers are nevertheless likely to show a big drop from the past two years. How come? Well, those two years were dominated by the pandemic, which distorted behaviour in several ways, particularly in terms of unprecedented noise in the summers (see those July bars on the left of the chart).

If we imagine a bar chart of annual, not monthly, totals spanning the past five or six years, the two pandemic years would look like Everest, with foothills either side. Except that the 2022-23 foothill, while substantially below the summit, is likely still to be a lot higher than what we were used to before covid struck.

Will noise levels eventually retreat to what we had in, say, 2018-19? Maybe not. Student numbers have grown since then, so noise may have, too. There's also another major factor—the introduction of Operation Beech in September 2019. Beech made it easier to report noise, and may be driving an increase in the statistics.

Should we take comfort from the possibility (still to be proved) that higher numbers represent better reporting rather than an actual increase in noise? Not really. It would just suggest there was a lot more noise going on than previous complaints statistics indicated. Andrew Waller



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