Couple wins suit against Alton Towers

Posted Monday, August 2, 2004 10:07 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A pottery firm boss and his wife expressed their relief today after winning a 25-year battle against a theme park to turn the volume down. At a hearing at Stafford Crown Court today, District Judge Timothy Gascoigne found the attraction’s London-based owners, Tussaud’s Theme Parks Ltd, guilty of statutory noise nuisance under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act.

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Monday, August 2, 2004 10:11 AM
You know, the reason I think this bothers me the most is that the park to this date has gone to ridiculous lengths to satisfy the requests of local planning authorities. If they met the requirements of these authorities, then how can they be held responsible for the "misery" of this couple?
Monday, August 2, 2004 10:38 AM
Its back to that old saying, if the family was there before the park, fine, I see no problem in complaining, but if the park was there first they have no right to complain.

I feel bad for Alton Towers I really do. Makes ya wonder would it be cheaper to keep up with these battles or just buy all the houses within a certain distance.

Monday, August 2, 2004 11:41 AM
Or just be a complete realist and if they're really that elderly of a couple, just wait another 5-10 years and not even have to deal with negative publicity of kicking old folks out of their homes ...
Monday, August 2, 2004 12:42 PM

Its back to that old saying, if the family was there before the park, fine, I see no problem in complaining, but if the park was there first they have no right to complain.

Not up on my Alton Towers facts, but their first coaster went in in 1980. The article describes the couples "25 year battle".

I'm guessing they were indeed there before AT really started putting up a bunch of big thrill rides, doing fireworks and such.

Monday, August 2, 2004 12:53 PM
Oblivion may have to close, and this isn't exaggerating. Apparently the ride makes the windows in there house shake.
Monday, August 2, 2004 12:59 PM
If that's true I'm sure something can be done other than close it. Filling the track with sand, ala Talon, may do the trick. Magnetic braking may help also.
Monday, August 2, 2004 1:20 PM
Filling the track with sand would work really good. I went to Hershey recently and saw Storm Runner. They did that to their track. You can't hear it even when you're right under it.
Monday, August 2, 2004 1:20 PM
sros208: Intersting point about the homes. San Jose INternational Airport did thad back in the '80s and tore down the homes. It is really strange now because the streets and trees are still there, but otherwise wild. You don't normally see juniper growing wild like that in the area.

Perhaps just offer to purchase homes above the market price (since it'd be low due to the noise) and then either sell to families who sign a noise waiver, or tear down the home.

I don't know...tough call. Depends on who was there first.

Monday, August 2, 2004 2:29 PM
You know what though, I don't know if their laws would allow it, but if I was forced to close anything I'd turn around and sue whichever governmental unit allowed the construction of the rides in the first place, because they in turn represent the people that live there. No one spends tens of millions of [your currency here] to build something like that just to tear it down or have it sit dormant (unless you're Six Flags Marine World, duh).
Monday, August 2, 2004 2:46 PM
It's the ol' private party-corporate entity-government love triangle at it's finest ;)
Monday, August 2, 2004 2:55 PM
You know, an increasing number of airports I have flown into recently have been basically surrounded by industry and office space. (along with the occaisional hotel and retail business). Places where there once were houses are now commercial real estate instead. Why not have the local government rezone the land surrounding the park to commercial/residential and encourage businesses to come in and offer money for the land? These homeowners could probably get a mint from people wanting to put up hotels and restaurants and other goodies next to the park, not to mention office blocks and other light industrial concerns that would create more jobs in the community? Just a thought.
Monday, August 2, 2004 4:08 PM
^I guess you have never been there?! :)
AT is in a hilly, rural area surrounded by villages. The nearest cities are Birmingham and Manchester about fifty miles away. I know this is no distance compared to US standards. :) But due to the surroundings (small roads) I would think its not very attractive for anyone to build offices or light industry there.

Another reason is the status of the Towers as a historical place (very, very, OLD) and the recreational value of the area.

As much as I would like to have a few B&Ms in my backyard, I can somehow understand the angry folks who used to live next to an ancient quiet castle which nowadays plunges a 2-ton vehicle with 16 screaming humans into a hole every 20 seconds.

AFAIK the tracks and supports are already filled with sand and the contact points of track and supports are coated with special plastics to kill as much noise as possible.

I think the problem with Oblivion is the pressure that goes into the ground when the car crashes through that narrow tunnel.

But as Jeff said, with all those concerns those rides should have never been built in the first place.
(did I just write that?!)

Monday, August 2, 2004 5:28 PM
Yeah, you can't believe how "out of the way" AT is - I mean, by comparison Holiday World is in the middle of freakin' New York city. You'd have to see all those tour buses barely navigating tiny, ancient streets to get there to appreciate how much of a nuisance they can be. And I don't think it's realistic to expect families/couples that have been there for 50 years or more to pull up stakes that easily ...
Monday, August 2, 2004 6:46 PM
That's odd I think for us Americans to get because we're blessed and cursed with the interstate system, and Americans really love their cars. Because most of our country was settled by white people in the industrial age (and by white people I mean the natives were here hundreds of years before us), our cities and towns largely exist because of their prolixity to some kind of transportation or natural resource (oceans, lakes, rivers, railroads, etc.). Europe, the way I understand it, didn't develop this way. I look at a map of London or Paris and I cringe at the relative disorganization it appears to be compared to most US cities and their grids surrounded by freeways.

What I'm getting at is that these kinds of recreational places rarely thrive in the US without having been near a big road, or planned along with such a road. It's hard to believe that Alton Towers could have grown to its size without being near a major road.

But like I said, if the planning authorities were OK with what they built, so should the residents that elected them be. If not, well, that's democracy, sorry about your luck.

Monday, August 2, 2004 8:39 PM
Well its going to be interesting to see what the outcome of the second hearing in November will be.

If it is bad for Tussauds i imagine an appeal will be lodged.

I am not surprised that this has happened, just hoped it would never actually come to court. Not good for Alton or the poor residents whose lives have been disturbed on top of their house being worth a lot less than it would be if the park was not there.

Regarding the traffic system in the uk. It is not as backward as some of you guys are making out. There is a very extensive motorway network that covers the entire country (free by the way), the problem is when you get off the motorways. You hit roads designed for horses not cars and buses!!!

Alton towers is in the worst possible location, no direct train connection (trains in the UK go everywhere (although rarely on time)and quite a distance from the main road network. You have to wind your way down country lanes that should only see 10 cars an hour, but instead they are full everyday.

There have been reports that Tussauds were going to pay for a duel carriageway bypass of Alton, in my opinion the sooner the better.

This does not help the noise problem though. perhaps a generous buyout of some homes near oblivion would help. But what about future development???

It now makes more sense to build down into the valley (where the woodie was supposed to go) away from any possible noise complaints. Build indoor rides. There have been rumours of a 5D ride like superman. No noise problem there.

What to do about oblivion- cover it totally- not out of the question, but would lose some of its visual impact, but at least it would still be operating.

There will be a lot of effort going on i imagine to try and get around this problem, lets hope an amicable solution can be found for all.


Tuesday, August 3, 2004 3:52 AM
The Guardian has an interesting article on the issue:


Alton Towers have to come up with a plan to cut the noise from its rides, firework displays, concerts and public address systems by November...

Good luck, AT!

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 6:25 PM
Quote from the above article:

"The Ropers' barrister, Martin Diggins, added: "The case is a historic victory for the little guy against the giant corporation and for the environment in general."

Now read this ironic twist to the plot, gives new meaning to the phrase "those living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones":

Guy has alot of nerve portraying the victim, when it's clear he's a worse offender than AT will ever be for the exact same violation! At least he gets a peaceful night of quiet after AT closes at 6pm, hope this finger pointing hypocrite gets what's coming to him!

*** This post was edited by jomo 8/3/2004 6:39:12 PM ***

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 6:57 PM
Absolutely Reliable has their take on this story.
Thursday, September 16, 2004 3:17 PM
this is why tussauds are piling money into thorpe park. Right in the middle of london they can be as noisey as hell

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