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Noise nuisance

What is a noise nuisance?

The Council can help to deal with noise that amounts to a ‘statutory nuisance’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

For the issue to count as a statutory nuisance it must do one of the following:

  • unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
  • injure health or be likely to injure health

A statutory nuisance will be more than 'annoyance' and much more than the mere detection of a noise.  Many other factors determine whether or not a noise is a statutory nuisance including how often it occurs, the time of day, your location (e.g. urban/rural) and the volume, character and duration of the noise. 

Types of noise which may be a Statutory Nuisance include:

  • Noise from domestic properties which becomes persistent and/or intrusive, e.g. music, barking dogs
  • Noise from burglar alarms
  • Noise from industrial, commercial, agricultural or business premises, e.g. machinery and equipment
  • Noise from construction sites, e.g. building operations
  • Noise from car alarms and loudspeakers in the street

We cannot take action against:

  • Aircraft noise
  • Road traffic noise
  • Noisy vehicles on the highway (horns, revving, exhausts)
  • One-off parties
  • Noise caused by people walking or congregating in the street - but if this is a persistent problem, we may be able to assist, see our page about antisocial behaviour
  • General everyday living noises such as dogs barking occasionally, lawnmowers used during the day, babies crying, children playing, slamming doors, walking upstairs and raised voices.

Before you make a complaint

If you are being disturbed by noise you should first try to have a friendly conversation with the person causing it – they may not be aware that they are causing a problem.  Most will be glad to do what they can to prevent or minimise the noise - a reasonable approach may encourage a reasonable response.  Take a mutual acquaintance or a friend with you if you are worried.

You may prefer to write to your neighbour. Remember to keep a copy. But if noise is still a problem after speaking with your neighbour, please fill out the online form:

Report Noise Nuisance

What happens after I make a complaint?

Before we can take legal action on anyone's behalf, we must be satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists and that evidence (suitable for a Court) has been gathered to support the case.  We will make a professional judgment about whether the problem fits within the terms of statutory nuisance law.  Complaints are confidential although we cannot prevent the source from making guesses about the identity of the complainant.  Also, if a case proceeds to prosecution then you would be required to support the case with a witness statement, and you would probably be required to give evidence to the court.

 

  • We will normally send you a log sheet to record details of the noise with dates and times.  This helps us to investigate your complaint.  You must return the log sheet within four weeks or we will not proceed any further.
  • We will also write to the person or organisation you are complaining about to tell them a complaint has been made.  This can usually resolve complaints without any further action being taken.
  • If the noise continues after they have received the letter, an officer will assess the log to see if it is something we may be able to assist with.
  • An officer may visit when the noise occurs to make an assessment, or noise monitoring equipment may be installed in your premises.
  • If we are satisfied that a nuisance is being caused, we will usually serve a statutory noise abatement notice, to prevent a recurrence of the problem.  The notice will require the noise to be reduced to a level which is not a statutory nuisance, within a reasonable time dependent on the circumstances of the case.
  • If this is ignored we can prosecute.  We can also obtain a warrant from a Magistrate, where appropriate, to seize noise making equipment.
  • If we do not find evidence of a statutory nuisance, we will advise on how you can take action yourself in the Magistrates' Court.

 

Taking your own action

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 gives you the right to take a noise complaint to your local Magistrates' Court, where a nuisance order can be issued and a fine imposed.

If you wish to do this, you should first make a record of the problem – including for example the date, time, duration, and a description of the noise each time – and notify the person causing the noise that you plan to take legal action against them.

If the noise continues unabated you should visit the warrant office at the Magistrates' Court, who will guide you through the process.  It is also recommended that you discuss the matter with a solicitor.

 

Who else is concerned with controlling noise?