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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 13 March 2008
Leaf machine has been a blow for ‘Sonic’ hedgehog

YOUR story of the discovery and loss of a hibernating hedgehog in Waterlow Park (‘Alex’ disappears after hogging the Highgate Hill, February 28) limelight is, sadly, not quite what it seems.
The truth is the excessive use of a leaf-blowing machine has rendered the park unfit for humans and animals. I have been investigating noise impingement by these machines as a human rights issue and can confirm the machine was used for 2 hours and 40 minutes in that park over the course of one day in November. It is hardly a surprise a hibernating animal has been disturbed and has no wish to remain. If Camden Council are baffled by why no hibernation boxes have been used across all their parks, they really need look no further than this very obvious cause.
In Waterlow Park, the machine is used so much nearly every weekday that the park is nicknamed “What A Blow Park”. In June last year I witnessed a man using the machine for 55 minutes non-stop. On another occasion, a friend approached this man to ask how long he intended to use the machine. It could be said the man was in denial to any idea he causes disturbance. He himself wears hard-cased industrial ear-­protectors (confirming the machine is in excess of 85 decibels, for which protection is a legal requirement).
Leaf-blowers are a machine for which no need exists. The ­gardening profession managed perfectly well with rakes and brushes for centuries.
They are, on every level, a health and safety hazard. They emit inordinate amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter, raising entrain dust from the ground to emit fine particles. These evade the body’s defence ­systems increasing the severity of asthma attacks, bronchitis and other lung disorders.
But the most chronic problem of all is the persistent, aggressive noise of the machines Why one person believes they have the right to impose that noise on others is beyond explanation.
That is why it is a human rights issue and, reading between the lines of your article about ‘Alex’ the hedgehog, it is also an animal rights issue.
The Campaign Against Leaf-blowing Machines (CALM) was set up last year by myself and ­others. We intend to bring these machines to the government’s attention with a view to their being outlawed, as they are in France, Austria and California.
Anyone interested in contacting CALM may do so on Carna
In the meantime, should the What A Blow Park noise continue unduly, we at least know now it is a matter for the RSPCA.
Oh, and the hedgehog’s nickname is no longer Alex, but Sonic.
Hornsey Lane, N6

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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