A recent case, which was brought by a family suffering as a result of exposure to excessive noise, has reached a decision which might be regarded as missing the point.

The Watson family had the misfortune to live near a motor racing circuit, which had gained the planning permissions necessary for its activities in 1963 and 1998. The 1998 planning permission required the owners of the circuit to operate under restrictions designed to limit the nuisance suffered by those living close to it.

The Watsons went to court, alleging that the circuit’s operators had wrongfully permitted excessive noise for a period of several years. They sought an injunction to prevent the use giving rise to the noise.

The court considered that the nature of the neighbourhood had not changed as a result of the track’s use, despite the gradual intensification of use. There were a number of different arguments advanced on both sides, but the salient point is that the court considered that the claim was not one which could be properly dealt with by an injunction, which would prevent or limit use of the circuit, but should be settled by way of the payment of damages by its operators to the Watsons.