Court backs church bell noise probe

A 65-year-old man living near St. Göran's Church in Stockholm has demanded that the church bells be silenced; he has received backing from the Swedish Environmental Court.

Court backs church bell noise probe

Stockholm-resident Jan Brännström took his case to the court following a lackluster response from the church council (Kyrkorådet) to his complaints about the excessive noise caused by St. Göran’s bells.

According to court documents, the council dismissed Brännström’s concerns by arguing that “those that live near a church tower should understand that noise from the church bells would be heard inside an apartment.”

While the court failed to grant Brännström’s request that the bells be muffled during the day and silenced at night and in connection with “concerts and other secular happenings”, it instead decreed that the health effects of ringing church bells should be examined more closely.

In addition, the court ruled that bell ringing, especially at night, could be considered damaging to health, thus lending additional support to Brännström’s efforts to mitigate the disruptive effects of the ringing bells.

In its decision, the court also reprimanded the Stockholm Environment & Health Protection Board for not doing enough to ensure the matter was investigated accurately.

“The board should in each case instruct the parish, or somebody else, to examine relevant decibel levels. By not doing so the board has not met its obligations,” the court ruled.

The court has therefore overturned the environmental board’s decision to ignore the matter and ordered it to conduct a formal inquiry into the level of noise pollution from the church bells of St. Göran’s.

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