Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Requiem for church organs

By Aussiegirl

This is another instance in which England surely regrets having joined the EU. There's no end to the mischief that bureaucrats can get away with. However, this insane proliferation of regulations isn't confined to the EU. Here is a quote from the short note in The American Thinker that linked to this article: But before you berate the Eurobatties too enthusiastically, keep in mind that the 2005 version of the Federal Register ran to 77,752 pages and that compliance with government regulations cost this country $1.1 trillion last year — roughly $3,660 for every single American.
Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

An EU directive aimed at controlling lead waste is putting the country's historic instruments in peril

THE stops could be pulled for ever on many church organs because of an EU directive designed to control hazardous substances.
The instruments at Salisbury Cathedral, St Paul’s in London, Worcester Cathedral, St Albans Abbey and Birmingham Town Hall are among the first that may be silenced. They are due to be refurbished or rebuilt and will fall foul of the directives, which are aimed at limiting the amount of lead in electrical items.

The regulations permit electrical equipment to have a maximum of 0.1 per cent of their weight as lead. Organ pipes have a lead content of 50 per cent or more and the Department of Trade and Industry has advised organ builders that, in the interests of directive harmony, they must “prepare to comply”. Though pipe organs are essentially mechanical devices, they use electric motors to power the blowers that move air through the pipes.

The great Harrison and Harrison organ at the South Bank, which is now in pieces in Durham as part of the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall, is under immediate threat. Under EU Directive 2002 95/EC RoHS and EU Directive 2002 96/EC WEEE, it will technically be illegal to reinstall it.

[...] The directive, which seeks to minimise the amount of “hazardous waste” that finds its way into landfill after electrical products are scrapped, would also bring to an end the 1,000-year-old craft of organ building. In Britain there are about 70 companies employing about 800 people, and all their jobs are at risk.

Only straightforward repairs of old instruments, doing nothing to change or modify the organ, would be allowed.

[...] Lead is used in organ pipes because of its malleability and the distinctive sound it produces. Organists are baffled that they have been caught up in EU red tape because when organs are rebuilt the lead is not thrown away. It is re-used in new or different pipes.


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this kind of bureaucratic insanity is all too common here in Aussie as well. As a manager I come up against this kind of rubbish a good part of the time.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous scribe said...

It seems that in the name of keeping the environment safe, these regulations have been used instead to shut down or severely restrict vital industries (like oil drilling and oil refinery capabilities).

And now things connected with the Church, like organ pipes! Next it will be the noise pollution from church bells that someone will want regulated--just like in muslim Ottoman Turkey that forbade the ringing of church bells in their conquered territories. The congregation had to be called to church by the priest hammering on a board.

This over-regulation is a global problem designed mainly to whittle institutions, even nations, down to size. We need to ask who and what agenda is really behind the environmental movement...

Otherwise, we may find ourselves regulated to death.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Joe Hennon said...

Just a couple of remarks on this church organs stuff. This Directive is aimed at controlling the use of hazardous waste such as mercury, cadmium, lead etc. in order to minimise long-term environmental threat. It's mostly aimed at the electrical and electronics industries.

I can reassure you that:
- existing church organs are outside the scope of the directive and can anyway continue to be repaired or upgraded using lead, i.e. Salisbury, St Paul's Cathedrals and Birmingham Town Hall are safe from EU intrusion!
- new organs are outside the scope of the directive if they use bellows as the source of energy, only organs using electric power as a source of energy are affected
- British industry builds on average 3 very big or big electric powered pipe organs a year and about 40 small or medium sized organs annually.
- Should they want to continue to use lead, they could apply for a exemption but so far nobody has.


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