- Author : Nina Montané
- Master : 2946
THE BATTLE FOR SILENCE | TF1 | Reportages
Nearly 9 out of every 10 French people are disturbed by noise. Beyond the simple inconvenience, the World Health Organisation believes that noise pollution brings serious consequences on health: stress, problems with sleep and concentration, hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. This scourge is spoiling the lives of millions of residents, both in cities and the countryside. Over a period of 6 months we accompanied French people who are battling this invisible evil. In rural Charente, Thierry and Annick watch as their haven of peace is turned into a hell because of the unbearable noise from a siren… on their neighbours’ wind turbine. “Our house used to be open, but now we are shut in. I’d like to go back to our old life!”, sighs Annick. Their exasperation has drawn them into a merciless war between neighbours. After 9 years of conflict, they are trying to resolve the situation via legal arbitration. Thierry and Annick will try to persuade their neighbours to get rid of their wind turbine – which won’t be easy as the latter paid several thousand euros for it. Others, like Marie-Agnes in Savoy, are unfortunate enough to experience noise bursting out in the middle of the night. A few months ago, a logistics depot for fresh produce was set up just 30 metres from her windows and its activity is essentially at night. “We’re awoken by the trucks, by these loud “bangs” between 2 and four in the morning. Our sleep pattern has gone totally haywire!”, complains Marie-Agnes. And yet, across the way, Eric, boss of the freight company, has spent tens of thousands of euros to limit the nuisance. He will be facing 8 local residents who have filed a complaint against him in a legal acoustic assessment. His business is under threat. Noise pollution can also cause property prices to collapse and reduce a life time’s work to nothing. In the Sarthe, Alain and Jacqueline have been renovated their house themselves since 1977, sacrificing all their vacations and their savings. Now, they are ruined because, 3 years ago, the new Paris-Rennes TGV rail line arrived, sending out its racket 80 metres from their home. Up to 100 trains per day, at 300 kph. “Now the house is uninhabitable, how can we sell it? 42 years of work vanished in the air, it’s a scandal!” rages Alain. The couple is fighting for compensation and to be able to move at last, along with 700 other victims. Paris is the second noisiest city in Europe. Heavy traffic, endless construction, deliveries, etc. We follow Parisians exposed to new levels of nuisance who are trying to make their voices heard at City Hall. In the Nord department, Annie and Paul’s lives have become a nightmare ever since their neighbour opened a rallying garage right it the centre of the village, 5 metres from their house. “The Sword of Damocles is always hanging over us. You never know if it’s suddenly going to start up and shatter the quiet.” The 50-year-old’s health has even deteriorated and, according to her doctor, noise is the cause of her symptoms. We have all experienced silence during a dramatic event that has shaken the entire world. Lockdown has turned major urban areas into ghost towns. Two months of quiet life, a mixture of relief and anxiety.