Kids' noise is all right, says Berlin
Germany's cabinet Wednesday adopted draft legislation aimed at battling a growing tide of complaints against noisy children, in what is a rapidly ageing society.
The legislation aims to make it easier to build creches in residential areas following a spate of objections against the din of children at play.
Some of these complaints have resulted in kindergartens being refused planning permission or childcare centres having to build noise-protection walls so as not to disturb locals.
Many 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.
In a statement, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said: "This is a clear legislative signal in favour of a child-friendly society."
"The noise made by children ... cannot be treated in the same way as the noise made by industrial equipment," added the minister.
The text of the draft law states that noise emanating from kindergartens, sandpits or playgrounds "is not generally environmental damage."
The law comes as Germany struggles to encourage more births as Europe's top economy faces a demographic time bomb.
Just 14 percent of the population is less than 14 years old, compared to 45 percent in Malawi, for example.
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