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A Pollution expert has been accused of withholding important documents about noise levels from a couple fighting a legal battle against Alton Towers. Helen Woollaston, an officer with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, was called back to court yesterday after it emerged documents she had given to the Alton Towers legal team did contain information about noise complaints and sound levels above the legally permitted level.
At the hearing on Friday, Miss Woollaston had denied giving such documents to Alton Towers.
Screaming passengers on some of the world's scariest white-knuckle rides may have to be told to whisper in terror after a legal ruling yesterday.
The owners of Alton Towers, the theme park set in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside, have until November to come up with a plan to cut the noise from its rides, firework displays, concerts and public address systems after a private prosecution by a couple living 100 yards from the entrance.
Residents in the village of Farley yesterday said they welcomed the news that Alton Towers would have to take steps to deal with noise pollution problems.
Many said screams from people on rides, traffic, and long speeches at corporate events had been steadily affecting their quality of life and most people backed the legal action taken by residents Stephen and Suzanne Roper.
Families get 20 tickets a year as part of a goodwill gesture from the theme park's owners, Tussaud's Theme Parks Ltd, and leaflets are distributed to warn them of special events.
For Emma Loat the issues highlighted by the Alton Towers' noise pollution case are very close to home. Miss Loat lives in Market Drayton where the town's major employer, the yoghurt manufacturer Muller wants to extend its factory on to 77 acres of countryside.
A council officer who misled a court while under oath has been cautioned by a judge, during a private prosecution brought against Alton Towers theme park.
The noise officer, an associate member of the Institute of Acoustics, could now face prosecution for attempting to pervert the course of justice. The rare move came during a seven-day trial at north Staffordshire magistrates court, which found Tussaud's Theme Parks Ltd guilty of nuisance.
Local authorities have complicated and, in some cases, contradictory responsibilities. On the one hand, they must promote tourism and industry. On the other, they are enjoined to protect the peace and quiet of their residents.
Alton Towers (see page one) is one of the UK's top theme parks, attracting more than half of the visitors to Staffordshire each year. As a business, it supports almost 4,000 jobs and generates more than £20m a year for the local economy.