Residents in Palma have had enough of the noise from old ferries. | Archive


Residents in the Bonanova-Porto Pi area of Palma have had enough of cargo ferries operated by Balearia and Acciona. "We've put up with it for fifteen years and we can take it no more." This sums up feelings of people whose say their lives are being ruined by the noise from the ships. Pilar Zarcos, head of the residents' association, says that there are those who are undergoing psychiatric treatment, who get up at seven in the morning, not having slept. There are others who endure the vibrating of windows in their houses.

Zarcos adds that the ships are very old. "They should be for the scrapyard." She explains that they operate all night with their engines on and the holds open for ventilation. Instructions are given by megaphones. All this means unbearable noise for some 500 to 600 residents. For others it can depend on the direction of the wind and the height of buildings.

Cruise ships, it is pointed out, don't bother the residents. While they are much larger, they also have much more modern technology. The only noise is from parties, but these end by midnight. The noise from the cargo ships, on the other hand, starts around half past midnight and doesn't end until they leave in the morning.

Residents believe that the problems would go away if Balearia and Acciona introduced more modern ships. They met with Joan Gual, the president of the Balearic Ports Authority, in February and discussed the issue, but the problems have continued. Alternative solutions have also been raised, such as the example of Alcudia where ships now have to anchor outside the port at night or that of Ibiza where ships arrive during the day. The ports authority, residents suggest, need to adopt measures like those for air traffic.

Meanwhile, they are not ruling out taking the matter to court. Some years ago the noise from the ferries was denounced to the town hall, which took sound measurements and found that they exceeded limits. The operators were told that they had to recondition the ships; they didn't and were penalised. Balearia and Acciona themselves went to court, arguing that noise ordinance didn't apply to the port. But residents point out that the judgement said that various regulations did obtain.