Noise nuisance campaigners have stepped up their crusade against propane gas guns used as bird scarers.
Rural residents around the Norfolk villages of Banham and New Buckenham claim their quality of life is being ruined by the inconsiderate use of gas guns in earshot of their homes and public footpaths.
More than 100 supporters have joined a Facebook campaign set up by Banham resident Alan Yates, who claims his home is bombarded with noise from the guns. Mr Yates has set up a petition to be presented to Downing Street to get the guns banned.
“There are so many guns hidden in the fields around the village that it’s difficult to pin down who they belong to. It’s the same story all over the county. It’s making people’s lives a misery.”
Some of the guns were louder than 150 decibels, said Mr Yates, who founded the Bang Out of Order Mate group. The noise produced was unacceptable and, in some cases, equivalent to the sound of a rifle fired at close range.
Guns were sited behind hedgerows next to public rights of way. “Commonsense would tell you anything producing that sort of noise out of a barrel should be sited well away from anyone,” said Mr Yates.
Another campaigner, Heidi Sutton, said: “Farmers tend to get the blame but only a few are continuing to cause us problems since we met to try to sort out the situation. We’ve tried to be discrete but it isn’t working.”
With more oilseed rape than usual drilled in the area last autumn, pigeons have been a particular problem this spring. But many growers believe the guns are more effective than other bird-scaring techniques.
Breckland District Council said it was aware that gas guns could be a noise nuisance to neighbouring properties. Farmers using them should abide by an NFU code of practice, it added.
The code said gas guns should only be used as a last resort. Noisy scarers should be avoided near residential buildings or other places where peace and quiet is important. Gas guns should never be used before sunrise or after sunset.
Just a few inconsiderate actions could threaten the ability of all growers to use gas guns, said an NFU spokesman. “Farmers must show they are capable of using gas guns responsibly or face calls for a ban.”