German government fights for noisy kids
The German government said Friday it was working on a bill aimed at battling a growing tide of complaints against noisy children in what is a rapidly ageing society.
Regulations on noise fall under Germany's emissions laws, and a bill tweaking these is due to go before Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet in February, a spokesman for the environment ministry told AFP.
"Noise made by childcare centres, playgrounds and places where ball games are played do not generally constitute a harmful environmental effect," the Passauer Neue Presse daily cited the bill as saying.
The government is also working on an amendment to building regulations that would make it easier for childcare centres to open in purely residential areas.
"Children making noise does not constitute something ... that citizens need to be protected from by law, but are an expression of liveliness," Peter Ramsauer, construction minister, said in Berlin.
Germany, where just 14 percent of the population is less than 14 years old, compared to 45 percent in Malawi, for example, has seen a spate of complaints against children being children in recent years.
Some of these have resulted in kindergartens being refused planning permission or childcare centres having to build noise-protection walls so as not to disturb locals.
The complaints, however, are not necessarily from senior citizens.
Many of them are from people in their 30s and 40s, including couples with children, worried about the value of their property falling if a noisy new kindergarten springs up nearby, experts say.
Only around 16 percent of households have children, with a recent government study showing that only half of Germans think that having children "enriches" life.
© 2011 AFP