A RETIRED couple claim new machinery installed by a Gourock frozen foods business is affecting their health.

Eric and Helen Clark of Caledonia Gardens say they haven’t had a proper night’s sleep since the equipment was fitted at nearby Donald’s Cream Ices at the end of last year.

The company is now applying for retrospective planning permission for the freezer air handling units within an enclosure at the rear of their Tarbet Street building.

Mr Clark, 73, who was group welding manager at Scott Lithgow, says he and his wife can hear the units even when the window is closed.

He said: “You don’t notice it during the day when there are cars and trains going by, but at night you can hear the humming noise and the clicking on and off.”

Mrs Clark, 72, a former home help, said they are also disturbed by noise from freezer units in delivery vans within the building.

She said: “Our health has been affected because we can’t get a decent sleep. We don’t have as much energy. The noise plays on your mind.”

Company boss Elio Amadei insists the new equipment is quieter than the machinery it replaced.

He said he was advised not to get planning permission before installation because the ‘sound proofed’ structure had to go through several design changes.

Mr Amadei said: “We went through lengthy consultation with environmental health. The council is satisfied our application ticks all the boxes. We have fulfilled all requests for sound-proofing, including acoustic pads and an acoustic tarpaulin.

“We were also asked to put a roof on the structure, which has to have ventilation to allow the machinery to ‘breathe’.”

He also said there had been no difference in the noise levels coming overnight from van freezer units.

Mr and Mrs Clark complained to the council’s environmental health department last December, and were visited by officials who then asked the company to erect an acoustic enclosure.

This reduced the noise, but the Clarks still had trouble getting to sleep.

An official said in a letter to them last month: “There is also a secondary noise source from the delivery vehicles. Officers have again witnessed the noise within your bedroom at night with windows open and closed.

“The noise is barely audible with the windows closed, and, while the noise from both sources can be heard with the windows open, it is not at a level that could constitute a statutory nuisance as defined under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.”

The official added that she would contact the company to suggest they consider bricking up windows at the back, which Mr Amadei said was a work in progress.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said the company has installed an enclosure to reduce the noise level to acceptable levels at night.

He added: “Now that the company has applied for planning permission, people can make representation through the planning application process in the normal way.”