Moreno Gómez v. Spain

App. No. 4143/02, 41 Eur. H.R. Rep. 40 (2005).
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Country: Spain
Region: Europe
Year: 2004
Court: European Court of Human Rights
Health Topics: Environmental health, Health care and health services
Human Rights: Right to privacy
Tags: Pollution

The applicant, a Spanish national, complained of noise disturbances at night bars, pubs and discotheques near her home in Valencia. An expert report confirmed that the noise levels were unacceptably high. The City Council designated her area an “acoustically saturated zone”, thereby imposing a ban on new noisy activities. Despite the ban, the City Council granted a license a month later to a discotheque to be opened in the building in which the applicant lived.

The applicant instituted various domestic court proceedings regarding the situation, which prevented her from sleeping and resting, and caused her insomnia and serious health problems. The applicant complained that the authorities’ failure to address the night-time disturbances amounted to a violation of her rights under Article 8 (respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Court held that there had been a breach of applicant’s rights under Article 8 of the ECHR. Particularly, the Court criticized the volume of noise – at night and beyond permitted levels – and its continuation over several years. According to the Court, in tolerating these noise levels despite bylaws forbidding them, the authorities in fact contributed to the repeated breach of the rules thereby infringing the applicant’s right to respect for her home and her private life as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

"54. Thus in the case of Powell and Rayner v. the United Kingdom (judgment of 21 February 1990, Series A no. 172, § 40), the Court declared Article 8 applicable because: "In each case, albeit to greatly differing degrees, the quality of the applicant's private life and the scope for enjoying the amenities of his home ha[d] been adversely affected by the noise generated by aircraft using Heathrow Airport". In the aforementioned case of López Ostra v. Spain, which concerned noise pollution and a waste-treatment plant, the Court said: "severe environmental pollution may affect individuals' well-being and prevent them from enjoying their homes in such a way as to affect their private and family life adversely, without, however, seriously endangering their health". In the case of Guerra and Others v. Italy (judgment of 19 February 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-I, § 57), the Court observed: "The direct effect of the toxic emissions on the applicants' right to respect for their private and family life means that Article 8 is applicable". Lastly, in the case of Surugiu v. Romania (no. 48995/99, 20 April 2004), which concerned various acts of harassment by third parties who entered the applicant's yard and dumped several cartloads of manure in front of the door and under the windows of the house, the Court found that the acts constituted repeated interference by third parties with the applicant's right to respect for his home and that Article 8 of the Convention was applicable." Page 11-12.