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Stowmarket: Man is fined over his noisy cockerels

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 November 2011

Nicholas Stutchbury in his garden in Stowupland Road, Stowmarket, where he keeps chickens and cockerels. Stutchbury was fined £50 and ordered to pay costs for contravening a noise abatement notice to stop his crowing cockerels being a nuisance to neighbours.

Nicholas Stutchbury in his garden in Stowupland Road, Stowmarket, where he keeps chickens and cockerels. Stutchbury was fined £50 and ordered to pay costs for contravening a noise abatement notice to stop his crowing cockerels being a nuisance to neighbours.

A 42-YEAR-OLD man has said he feels "aggrieved" after he was found guilty of failing to stop his noisy cockerels disturbing his neighbours.

A 42-YEAR-OLD man has said he feels “aggrieved” after he was found guilty of failing to stop his noisy cockerels disturbing his neighbours.

Nicholas Stutchbury, of Stowupland Road, Stowmarket, appeared in Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with contravening a noise abatement notice on or about January 17 this year.

The notice, served by Mid Suffolk District Council, required him to “abate the nuisance arising from crowing cockerels” at his home.

Stutchbury, who had denied the offence, was found guilty following his trial and ordered to pay a £50 fine as well as £300 towards court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

He had told the court he had lived in the house for 40 years, keeping chickens and cockerels to be more self-sufficient, without any complaints “whatsoever”.

But his neighbour Michael Turner, who lives in a seven-year-old property in Firecrest Drive, described the cockerels as “very annoying and very noisy,” adding how living there was “horrific” as a result.

The court heard how the council had received “numerous complaints” about crowing cockerels from the defendant’s premises.

After the hearing, Stutchbury said he still believed he was innocent.

He said: “I feel aggrieved that one neighbour out of probably the 30 neighbours doesn’t like the sound of cockerels and I get found guilty.”

He added: “There’s probably 10 people that don’t mind hearing them or like to hear them in the mornings for every one person that doesn’t.”

Stutchbury said he felt he had done all he had been asked to - short of getting rid of the cockerels - to keep the noise down.

During the hearing, Jonathan Reed, prosecuting on behalf of Mid Suffolk District Council, said the abatement notice was served in November last year, but despite this “the cockerels continue to crow and still do so until this day”.

Susan Herne, an environmental health officer with Mid Suffolk District Council, said following the use of recording equipment to establish how bad the noise was and how regular it was occurring it was considered to be a statutory nuisance.

She said the noise was clearly audible inside the complainant’s property, it dominated the sound of the dawn chorus and was louder and clearer than the distant traffic on the A14. She added how it was occurring roughly between 3am and 5am most mornings.

Mr Turner, who lives with his wife and two children, said: “It’s just horrible. It’s horrific living there.”

The court heard how the council had made attempts to resolve the problem before deciding it was necessary to serve the abatement notice.

Stutchbury, who was representing himself, said he did have seven mature cockerels, but he reduced this number to three “almost overnight” when he became aware of the problem.

He added how he had also installed a light-proof coop, which he had positioned as far away from Mr Turner’s fence as possible.

“I would say there’s quite a few of us who keep poultry in Stowupland Road. It used to be in the country until this new development,” he said.

Stutchbury said currently he kept 30 hens, three mature cockerels and four juvenile cockerels.

He said he was unable to work due to a blocked artery, adding how the cockerels helped him to be more self-sufficient.

He said he “would not want to be a nuisance to anybody,” adding how he was following the Poultry Club guidelines.

After the hearing, Mrs Herne said “This is a step towards controlling a very distressing situation for neighbours and we hope that we will soon be able to ensure they can have a good night’s sleep without the risk of this unreasonable disturbance.

“Today’s result shows that Mid Suffolk District Council and the courts take noise complaints seriously.”

A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council said the environmental health service at the council would be endeavouring to talk to Stutchbury to bring the noise problem under control and, if it did not prove possible, it was likely further prosecutions would be necessary.

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