A COUPLE accused of keeping their neighbour awake with noisy cockerels have lost their appeal against a noise abatement order.

Welshpool magistrates on Wednesday decided a statutory nuisance did exist when the order was made against Roy and Valerie Rylands, of Rock House, Bwlch y Fridd, Newtown.

The court heard of a history of incidents between the couple and neighbour Roger Morgan.

The Rylands appealed against a noise abatement notice served by Powys County Council after complaints from their neighbour. They have been ordered to abate the noise within 21 days and pay £6,000 legal  costs to the county council.

Paulinus Barnes, representing the Rylands, said that cases of nuisance needed to be considered on degree. To be a statutory nuisance the noise should “unduly and unreasonably interfere with someone’s enjoyment of their own land and property” which he said the Rylands’ five cockerels did not.

He said there were inconsistencies with Mr Morgan’s evidence and questioned the positioning of the council’s recording equipment on the sill of an open window of the back bedroom, resulting in a “quadrupling of sound”.

He said World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, and the county council’s judgment, was not binding on the court, and pointed out that the Rylands family have kept cockerels since 1944.

Representing Powys County Council, Jonathan Salmon disputed that the Rylands ran a working farm. He said it was “essentially a hobby – you don’t make a living from selling eggs to neighbours, and you don’t need cockerels for egg production.”

He also said that as substantial land owners it should be possible for them to move the sheds.

He characterised Mr Rylands as “a man unprepared to budge,” who had made “no attempt to co-operate and no attempt to do anything about it.”

He said the burden of proof was on the Rylands to prove there was no nuisance, having question marks over Mr Morgan’s evidence was not enough.

The magistrate said: “We’ve noted that there are various aspects of animosity between Mr Morgan and Mr Rylands, but have not taken these into consideration since they do not relate directly to the appeal.

“It’s regrettable that within a hamlet as small as Bwlch-y-Fridd that such animosity has evolved. Had there been some form of mediation this animosity might not have arisen.”

He recommended a mechanism for mediation be put in place for the future.

He said he had taken into account the location, time, duration, frequency, volume and difficulty in avoiding the noise.

He accepted the positioning of the recording equipment as reasonable, and said it was “reasonable for householders to want to sleep with windows open at any time of year,” pointing out that Mr Morgan must have been woken up by the sound in order to start recording.

He said: “Mr Rylands declined to do anything differently, therefore a nuisance has been caused.”