The review of the Alicante noise ordinance passed the first administrative filter this week so that it can be submitted to a full vote between the months of March and April. This is a new regulation that updates the draft text with the aim of replacing the regulations still in force, approved in 1991. Some of its fundamental changes were already outlined four years ago. And now they are extended with the incorporation of the latest state and regional regulations promulgated on the matter.

In any case, apart from the regulation of the parameters to be met so that a specific area can be declared a Saturated Acoustic Zone (ZAS), the ordinance includes three other especially relevant novelties to try to tackle excessive noise problems. The first has to do with the possibility of agreeing on sanctions, an option that is not contemplated in the current ordinance.

Along these lines, the ordinance contemplates the possibility of imposing fines of up to 300,000 euro depending on the importance of the offence committed. Thus, as is usual in any sanctioning regime, the existence of minor, serious and very serious infractions is contemplated. The lesser offences can lead to fines of up to 600 euro; the serious ones, sanctions from 601 to 12,000 euro, in addition to the suspension of the licence for a period of time between one month and one day and one year or, even, the temporary, total or partial closure of the facilities that are the focus of the offence for a maximum period of two years. Lastly, in violations classed as very serious, a fine of between 12,001 and 300,000 euro is contemplated and the definitive withdrawal of the corresponding licences or authorisations.

The ordinance details what type of offences would fit into each of these graduations. Among the minor ones, for example, exceeding the sound limits established by less than 6 decibels (dB). Among the serious ones, exceed those same limits from 6 to 15 dB. And among the very serious, exceed the sound levels allowed by more than 15 dB. In addition, the criteria that modify its importance are established to graduate the final amount of the sanction, with parameters such as the assessment of the damage or deterioration caused, intentionality or negligence, recidivism and repetition of the same infraction or the economic, environmental, or social significance of the offence.

To put volume into context, a normal voice from a single person is between 60 and 70 dB. Talking loudly is between 65 and 75 dB. A normal soloist singer would reach around 90 dB. So, for a single person to go from talking at 70 dB to singing, the increase would be 20 dB.

The second essential novelty, with regard to the regulation of the operation of leisure venues such as pubs or discos that are licenced for music, is the establishment of the mandatory provision of sound limiters, which will be connected to the Police headquarters to have a detailed record of the levels reached at all times. Thus, there will be an effective data collection on the possibility of exceeding the permitted levels.

And thirdly, the ordinance also establishes that said premises must procure the hiring of door staff or access control personnel who must ensure that there are no concentrations of customers at the doors of each establishment with the purpose, or not, of consuming. In these cases, the dispersion must be sought to avoid noise disturbances that prevent the residents from resting and, if necessary, notify the Local Police officers so that they can intervene on that line.