Noise and nuisance


This cross-cutting theme is now closed for comments.

You can read comments made since the start of the Red Tape Challenge in April 2011 below.

You can also still submit comments to the Red Tape Challenge inbox by clicking here.

These regulations aim to limit the impacts from noise, other nuisances such as litter and dog fouling; and reduce the effects of noise from roads, railways and airports. In some cases the regulations include provisions to issue fixed penalty notices, and require authorities to conduct reasonable investigations.

You can find all 25 regulations that relate to noise and nuisance below to the left.

Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006

SI transposing the EU Environmental Noise Directive into English Regulation

 UK regulation

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Environmental Noise (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008

Amendment of Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006

 UK regulation

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Environmental Noise (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009

Amendment of Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006

 UK regulation

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Environmental Noise (England) (Amendment) Regulations  2010

Amendment of Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006

 UK regulation

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The Street Litter Control Notices (England)(Amendment) Order 2007

Amends legislation to allow litter control notices to be served on premises used wholly or partly for the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No4) (England) Order 2007

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No 2, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Order 2006

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No 2, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (England and Wales) Order 2005

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No 3) (England) Order 2006

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No 4) Order 2006

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No.1 Transitional and Savings Provisions) (England) Order 2006

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No.2) (England) Order 2006

Commencement Order for parent Act

 UK regulation

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Environmental Offences (Use of Fixed Penalty Receipts) Regulations 2006

Sets out circumstances when functions of an authority are “qualifying functions” for the purposes of which it may use its fixed penalty receipts – REVOKED BY SUBSEQUENT REGULATION

 UK regulation

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The Dog Fouling (Fixed Penalty) (England) Order 2002

Set rate for level of fixed penalty fine for dog fouling – REVOKED BY SUBSEQUENT REGULATION

 UK regulation

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The Litter (Fixed Penalty) (England) Order 2002

Set rate for level of fixed penalty fine for littering – REVOKED BY SUBSEQUENT REGULATION

 UK regulation

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The Litter (Fixed Penalty Notices) Order 1991 and the Dog Fouling (Fixed Penalties) Order 1996 (Revocation) (England) Order 2005

Revokes Orders prescribing the form of the fixed penalty notices

 UK regulation

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Dog Control Orders (Prescribed Offences and Penalties, etc) Regulations 2006

Provides offences and penalties for any dog control orders made under parent Act.

 UK regulation

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Environmental Offences (Fixed Penalties)(Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2006

Sets rates for level of fixed penalty fines for a range of offences including littering

 UK regulation

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Environmental Offences (Use of Fixed Penalty Receipts) Regulations 2007

Sets out circumstances when functions of an authority are “qualifying functions” for the purposes of which it may use its fixed penalty receipts

 UK regulation

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Dog Control (Procedures) Regulations 2006

Explains the procedure under which dog control orders must be made.

 UK regulation

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Controls on Dogs (Non-application to Designated Land) Order 2009

This order designates land that dog control orders cannot be made; and revokes and replaces the Controls of Dogs (Non-application of Designated Land) Order 2006.

 UK regulation

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Environmental Noise (Identification of Noise Sources) (England) Regulations 2007

These Regulations identify the Noise Sources that needed to be mapped for the First Round of Mapping.

 UK regulation

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Environmental Protection Act 1990 sections 79 and 80

Place a duty on local authorities to take reasonable steps to investigates complaints regarding potential nuisances (noise, dust, odours etc.) and issue an abatement notice when they are satisfied that a nuisance exists or likely to occur or recur.

 UK regulation

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Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 sections 101 and 102

Add insects and artificial light (with some exceptions) to the list of potential sources of nuisance (as listed in Environment Protection Act 1990)

 UK regulation

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Control of Pollution Act 1974 sections 63 to 67

Giver local authorities the power to, and set out how to, implement Noise Abatement Zones in which noise is closely controlled.

 UK regulation

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Tell us what you think should happen to these regulations and why, being specific where possible:

For example parts of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 are largely unused, perhaps you think they can be scrapped.

Comment Tags:
enforcement | railway | Red Tape | Health | noise

121 responses to Noise and nuisance

  • Colin Crewdson said on September 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Start from first principle: how can we make life happier for everyone?

  • Yvonne McDonald said on September 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I would make it a statutory duty on local authorities to have at least 6 Environmental Health Officers “on-call”24 hours a day, 7 days a weeks, 365 days a year. Residents would be able to phone a direct phone number and the EHO would arrived take noise reading and then issue a £1,0000 on the spot fine. If the money is not immediately paid then the premises (house/pub/shop) would be closed and all persons present required to leave, children given to the care of social services. After seven days failure to pay would caused a warrent to be issued in the courts and the person responible arrested and jailed for six months.

    • Mike Sealey said on September 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      “EHO would arrived take noise reading”

      Without being able to determine whether or not the cause of the noise is in fact the target of the complaint? For example, noisy patrons leaving a pub and a lorry driving past at the same time could offer a false positive on the reading, and, by your ideals, would slam a landlord with a hefty fine. Also, if such a complain were to be made against Wembley Arena, would £1000 make a scratch in their takings of a Cup Final?

    • Mr MJR said on January 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      6 EHO’s on call 24 hrs a day 365? are you willing to pay for this? EHO numbers are being slashed up and down the country due to the cuts that seem to be supported by most of the general public.

  • Jenny said on September 9, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I think people have enough difficulties enforcing current nuisance levels without reducing the legislation further. It would also help if the regulations were in an easier to understand format. A law is not red tape, it was introduced for a reason, so scrapping them altogether is not an option.

  • Linda Arthur said on September 7, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I have worked in the licensed trade all my life, as a consultant and business owner and constantly hear of pubs, clubs and restaurants whose businesses are being put at risk by a single neighbour complaining about noise and nuisance. In every one of these cases, the neighbour has willingly purchased or otherwise moved next door to a licensed premises (usually at a reduced price for the property) and then campaigns mercilessly for noise reduction which often results in the business going bust because of the subsequent restraints that are put upon them to reduce the noise and nuisance to the individual neighbour. I also hear that factories in residential areas often suffer the same fate.
    The government should give businesses like this a fighting chance and only allow complaints from existing neighbours when a new noise making business is set up. Otherwise it is always going to be a good investment to buy a cheap property next door to a pub, get it closed down and make a tidy profit as your property value goes up.

  • Judith Martin said on September 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    It’s hard to think of anyone who might benefit from relaxing or scrapping this legislation other than problem neighbours, irresponsible dogowners, owners of fast-food restaurants and of course all too many developers only too happy to scrimp on building standards. Most people want clean pavements, solidly built housing, peaceful neighbourhoods, and a safe environment.

    Some of the legislation comes from the EU anyway. This is yet another misguided attempt at policymaking that might win headlines of the ‘anti nanny state’ variety but would actually damage people’s daily lives.

    Besides, isn’t the Big Society about taking responsibility for your community, and not doing all those things – dropping litter, making noise – that this legislation exists to prevent?

    p.s. please clean up the grammar in your ‘tag’ brackets: others might find (y)our comments more easily, not easier. Otherwise Mr Gove might have to give you detention – without telling your parents.

  • David Hope said on September 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I have suffered from noise in the past as a resident under the flight path to Heathrow airport, and also as a resident in multi-storey flats in a city centre. Noise in our technological society seems ubiquitous and increasing. Environmental health teams and laws need to be strengthened to deal with noise nuisance.

    • Michael Sealey said on September 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      What would you suggest? Leaving an un-developed strip of land for planes to fly over, so as not to disturb inhabitants? Maybe planes should just coast past your flat, and turn the engines back on after they’ve been past.

      If you moved into a flat next to an airport, you were being blindly optimistic to assume that air traffic would decrease or even remain the same.

      That said, on a cloudy night, with a small car driving past, you would be more aware of the car than the plane.

  • Stephen Coulman said on September 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    It is sad to hear that so many people feel let down by the lack of apparent action by their local authority. A statutory noise nuisance can be hard to establish and my colleagues and I endeavor to serve our communities / customers as best we can employing diary sheets, electronic monitoring kit (Matrons), default patrols to known premises, out of hours working ‘on demand’ and partnership working with the police. We regularly serve abatement notices and prosecute for breaches thereof. We also undertake seizures and donate confiscated noise making equipment to local worthy causes.
    One thing I should like in my toolkit is the power to issue a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for breach of an abatement notice (as per littering, fouling, graffiti etc). The offender could be given the opportunity to accept the penalty only if the attending Environmental Health Practitioner thought it appropriate. Failure to pay would default to a prosecution. This would speed up the impact of any abatement notice served and demonstrate that it is not just a piece of paper to ignore. We have authorised PCSOs to issue FPNs for littering and other enviro-crimes so an extension of this to include breach of an abatement notice could be feasible – and to include PCs.
    Noise is a serious issue in today’s inward looking society and I would strongly object to any watering down of the present legislative regime.

  • Mr Harding said on August 10, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Noise can severely blight people’s lives. The legislation is vital to protect citizens. It is wrong and foolish to describe any law as “red tape”, in doing so, all laws are denigrated and law and order is undermined.

    • daniel wilson said on September 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

      People that complain about things like airports should be told to go home, I imagine the airport was there a long time before you.

      Comment Tags: danuk1986@gmail.com

  • June Rovai said on August 9, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Legislation on noise nuisance could be simplified but at the same time made more stringetn and easier to enforce. We constantly hear what is being done to alleviate/deal with noise nuisance in social housing but nothing is heard about trying to improve the life of those in privately owned property who suffer from constant noise nuisance from neighbours. Enforcement appears to be almost impossible especially when there is often a lack of will on the part of local Environmental Health Officers.

    • Michael Sealey said on September 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      A strong, yet easy to enforce legislation would simply mean something so trivial as coughing too loudly could land someone with a serious penalty. What about church bells? If I wish to complain about a local religious establishment ringing their bells at midnight, could I land the local vicar with a significant penalty? Where would you draw the line, and why?

  • Sarah Griffith said on July 3, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Many people suffer from excessive noise in urban environments, a problem set to worsen given the increasing popultation density in these areas. The legislation should be reinforced and strengthened if anything.

  • Ayesha Wilson said on July 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I have been battling a neverending struggle with noise nuicanse with my neighbours dogs for almost 2 years. Last year after some struggling with the EH I finally was allowed to have their noise monitoring equipment for a week. they agreed later that the noise was extreme and they would have taken action had the culprit not in that same week gotten rid of the problem dog and on the same day bought two new dogs. Which now are causing the same problems. Once again I am battling with EH as the noise has gotten extreme once again, however they dont always respond when you call them out, and the noise is so infrequent however lasts 24/7 that they always fail to catch the dogs in the act. When I heard that there are only 2 EH officers covering the whole of Bristol on a night time I was appalled. As they work in pairs resources are very limited. I feel therefore that more funding should be made available to investigate noise complaints and EH should be able to act quicker and put an end to the nuisance. It’s appalling the amount of stress to endure in the whole process whilst feeling that you are getting nowhere all the time.

  • Val Weedon MBE said on June 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I have been campaigning on noise since 1991 and recently appointed as Noise Tzar by Noisedirect (an independent national noise advice line) Their professionals speak daily to individuals across the country who simply want to exercise their right to peace and quiet in their homes and stop unwanted noise whether from antisocial behaviour, transport, industry or domestic noise. The common theme that emerges from calls to Noisedirect is that the current system is under resourced, understaffed and inequitable. Noisedirect already provides a “new approach that empowers individuals to make healthy choices and gives communities the tools to address their own particular needs.” Noisedirect professionals are witness to the impact that environmental factors, and health inequalities have on noise sufferers. The sweeping cuts to public funding and the new localism agenda means that the divide and disparity in noise services provided by local Councils and responses to statutory functions will become greater.
    1. Noisedirect suggests a pledge to ring fence government funding to enable Environmental Health Departments to carry out statutory functions under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Housing Act 2004 (taking action for “threats to physical and mental health resulting from exposure to noise inside a dwelling or within its curtilage”).
    2. Introduce legislation to allow individuals to appoint and authorise independent Environmental Health Practitioners (registered with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) to act on their behalf and enable them to serve Hazard Awareness and Nuisance Notices on behalf of individuals, where issues affecting public health exist.
    3. Amend the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 to allow any person aggrieved by a Category 1 Noise Hazard within their dwelling to apply to the local Magistrates Court for the abatement of the Hazard.
    4. Stop the postcode lottery for investigating noise complaints. Where local authorities fail to carry out inspections in accordance with their statutory duties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or Housing Act 2004, then the Local Government Ombudsman should be granted powers to impose a £25 fixed penalty victim fine payable by Councils to complainants.

  • Orenda O'Brien Davis said on June 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I agree with many of the other comments here that regulations need to be strengthened, if anything. We have had noise issues with several of our neighbours – sometimes they are reasonable and react helpfully, other times they do not. The noise team has never been able to do anything about it, as either they come too late or the noise is not audible from outside our front door. Often, the noise is music directly below our bedrooms (and the insulation between flats is not bad, I would say), disturbing the children’s (and our) sleep. Or, very loud voices late at night as people chat outside while smoking or visiting. My latest call to the noise team was met with ‘we can’t respond unless music is involved’. I also think amplified music by non-regulated buskers should be stopped, so that walks in the park can actually involve some peace and quiet. Generally, I think excessive noise is a big problem here in England and has a very negative affect on quality of life. I’ve not had time to think about exactly how the regulations should be strengthened, but would welcome a further look at this. Overall I think regulations come in for a purpose, and I am opposed to just cutting them out without thought as to why they were put in in the first place.

  • Maxine said on June 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Noise nuisance is what drove me from my last house. The people across the road were so aggressive and so scary that I was afraid to leave the house at night yet come home after work. They use to point their speakers out the door at my house and blast their music till all hours of the night. The noise nuisance people would come by and refuse to go to their house because they were ‘scary’ so we ended up living like that for over 1 year. Finally after complaining they did something and an order was slapped on them. However, that did nothing. Since the police have no jurisdiction with noise and the noise officers were not open 24/7 they would get away with violating their abatement orders pretty much daily.

    The laws need to be changed to help people who are being subjected to repeated loud noises. If someone has an abatement order against them the police should be allowed to go in and shut it down. There should be a set decibel limit and the councils should come out with equipment to monitor this. Noise offices should be open day and night and should be staffed by trained people who can deal with the ‘scary situations’

  • Max said on June 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    A simple system with a set decibel limit related to the time of day would be far superior to the current system. I used to live in a flat where the downstairs neighbours would complain (even sometimes threatening physical violence) about us having a small radio on at 8 in the evening or getting home from work late at night. If there were simpler rules we would have been able to respond to their misdirected complaints, however at the time they felt they were in the right since we allegedly constituted a “nuisance”.

    • Mike T. said on June 23, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Sounds as if the issue may have been poor sound insulation between the properties which emphasises the importance of making sure, the building regulations are in place to reduce this sort of problem. Sound testing both new and converted properties is gradually improving the standard and hence the ability of people to live in flats and houses joined to each other.
      P.S. it isn’t as simple as it sounds to provide a simple limit, hence the current reg’s that have been refined over time, though there is always room to improve them.

    • Michael Sealey said on September 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      “A simple system with a set decibel limit related to the time of day would be far superior to the current system. ”

      Sound/noise is by no means simple. According to the Inverse Distance Law “Sound halves in volume when distance is doubled”. At what distance would you measure this sound pressure level? At what frequency would you measure the offending SPL? Please, simplify by all means, but you could find a neighbour poking a decibel meter in your mouth each time you cough and slamming you with a fine or jail time.

    • Mr MJR said on January 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      a one size fits all noise level would not work on many levels. It could not take into account background level, type of noise, tonality of noise and many other factors. Also again there is the slashing of budgets across councils, calibrated noise equipment costs many thousands of pounds to be and then maintain.

  • Mike T. said on June 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Environmental legislation and building regulations contain standards to improve the sound insulation of buildings. Many are relatively new and only just becoming better understood and applied by Authorities, designers and builders.

    With housing densities ever-increasing such standards are essential and should if anything be strengthened.

    Almost every site I visit, someone will comment on how poorly sound insulated their own home is and its detrimental effect on their lives. The stock of houses and flats is only just beginning to improve in sound insulation.

    Please keep all Approved Documents, A-M of the Building Regulations. You would not want, for example, fire safety left of the whim of the individual or builder. It is the same with sound and Approved Doc.E, the standard will not be maintained without mandatory legislation. Also the various British standards and planning guidances dealing with sound insulation and noise, pre-planning.

    ============================================

    School Acoustics:

    School acoustics was just being addressed with the introduction of BB 93, Acoustic Design for Schools- a design guide.

    It was beginning to have a real impact on the ability of schools to be places where teachers can function without raised voices and the pupils not to be so interrupted in their teaching by noise from other areas. All relatively new.

    It’s withdraw recently is a potential disaster in the creation of new schools that work.

    Please reintroduce this document and make it mandatory.

    If you need convincing, visit recently constructed schools where they have been applied and see the improvement compared with previous schools.

  • Paul Abbott said on June 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I have been involved in controlling nuisances more many years. The system is essentially subjective and as such is hardly ever understood by anyone except the professionals involved. The inclusion of more objective standards would simplify the current law. No one expects the police to make judgements about what is too fast, they simply enforce the speed limits in place at a given place. The extension of a similar provision for noise (like the night noise offence) would take much of the uncertainty from the curent system.

    • steve Joyce said on September 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      I am an EHO who has working in a Noise Team and you cant set a level for an actionable nuisance (i.e xxdB) as its not just the sound pressure level that causes nuisance, it is also the characteristic of the noise such as frequency, duration,tonal quality etc.
      Also you need to assess the noise against the background levels and the character of the area the alleged nuisance arises.

  • G Reiss said on June 7, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Regulations on noise and statutory nuisance should be strengthened. It should be made easier for those having to suffer noise to stop the source without having to go through a lengthy process that includes facing the person responsible for noise and having to keep a diary on noise incidence. The latter makes it even more difficult to switch off mentally. Dogs barking and lawnmowers at all times are the main cultprits in the countryside. Completely maddening that people don’t seem to act responsible when it comes to dogs.

    • Ayesha Wilson said on July 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      I totally have to agree with this statement, there should also be tougher laws regarding dog ownership in urban areas. In our city it is common for residents in flats to own dogs including working dogs which dont get adequate exercise and cause a nuisance through their frustration. The council also do not seem concerned about the amount of dogs residing in a property. I have to endure noise from 3 German Shepherd dogs below me in a two bedroom flat. apparantly this is ‘normal’ to the council.

    • Mr MJR said on January 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      The diary sheets are an important part of the investigation – after all its your complaint. the council officers cannot be at your property 24hrs a day. Any nusiance witnessed by officers is a snap shot and the record sheets and statements by the person complaining are the main body of the case. For example if your complaining about dog barking for a year and an EHO only witnesses it once; one incident of dog barking a year is not a nuisance, however if your log sheets show a regular problem similar to that witnessed by the EHO a case may then be taken. It is a bit of a post code lottery howeve, the council i work for has one of the highest enforcement rates in the country and take more cases to court in a month than some councils have in the past 10 years!(unfortunatley this is not an exageration)

  • Paul Durkin said on June 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Our Bonkers Council requires us to monitor noise at a free annual street festival which has had no noise issues for 5 years. Additionaly the former complainant now lives in Africa & we are expected to monitor NOW without equipment & where the nearest relevant ground floor dwelling is a funeral parlour.The Council’s condition is both superfluous & noise to wake the dead is ridiculous.

    • James K said on July 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

      If the condition is on your premises licence why not go for a minor variation to the licence to get the condition removed, if there has been no problems for 5 years I would not have thought the council would object.

      If however by monitoring you mean standing and listening to the level of music at nearby premises to see if it is not too excessive, then I would have thought as a responsible person this is not too arduous a task to ask.

  • David Colton said on May 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Ice-cream vans, booming ‘music’ from houses and cars, power tools after 6pm and on weekends. These things have pretty much destroyed my will to live. But I guess that being a creative person who values peace, thinking, contemplation and poetic experience doesn’t really count in this ugly world. If I am lying in my death bed in my own house will I still have to put up with this crap?

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