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Diary - Let's hear it for the noise

It's not as if most children need permission to be noisy, but in the German capital Berlin they have been given just that.

Germany's stringent laws on noise pollution give exemptions only to church bells, emergency sirens, snow ploughs and tractors. The threat of prosecution has even forced some day-care centres to close in the past, while playgrounds are regular objects of complaints from neighbours.

But now Berlin has become the first of Germany's 16 federal states to relax the law for children, saying the noise they make is "fundamentally and socially tolerable".

A spokesman for the city's department of noise protection - surely everyone has one of those? - says it's the first time children's rights to shout and make noise have been guaranteed by law.

There is some escape for anyone sensitive to noise. Even Berlin children have to be quiet at night and on Sundays.

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