Any noise can be a nuisance but you can normally avoid it by being reasonable and considerate to your neighbours. Some of the common ones we deal with are:
Our first advice is always to speak to the person causing the noise. Most of the time they don't realise they are causing a nuisance and are usually happy to change what they are doing.
If you have spoken to them and the noise continues to be a problem, you can make a complaint which we will investigate. However, remember that a letter or visit from us could make things worse, so always try to speak to them first.
Everyone perceives noise nuisance differently. It's not just about how loud something is, but what is acceptable to the average person. Noise is generally considered to be unwanted sound, but what one person considers unwanted may not seem unreasonable to someone else.
Before taking action we have to decide, as an enforcing authority, what is reasonable and what is not.
The first thing we do is check whether there have been any similar complaints made for the same property in the past. If we have received nothing similar in the last 12 months we consider this to be a new complaint.
What we do next will depend on the type of nuisance being caused.
We will usually ask you to fill in diary sheets so we can look in depth at the times of day the problems arise and the extent of the problem, if it continues.
If the noise is serious and happening at the time you contact us, we may be able to come straight out.
Usually, we can resolve noise issues informally by contacting the person responsible.
Sometimes investigations can be complicated and lengthy. Certain types of noise are difficult for us to assess so we may ask you to contact us at the time you are experiencing a problem or fill in diaries with details of how often the noise occurs.
If the problem cannot be resolved informally, we will need to witness the noise. This can be done either by visiting at times when the noise is happening or by using noise recording equipment installed in your home.
If we are satisfied that a nuisance is being caused, a Noise Abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 may be served on the person causing the problem. Any breach of this notice can lead to prosecution and/or seizure of noise-making equipment such as hi-fi, televisions, radios or even CDs/records.
The fine for breaching a Noise Abatement Notice can be up to £5000 and for a business up to £20,000. This is for each offence so can be for every time the Notice is breached.
When a Notice is breached, we can decide to take action to reduce or remove the nuisance ourselves. This can include seizing any equipment responsible for causing the nuisance such as:
Most public entertainment venues will have a license which should control the way in which certain activities are run. These may have conditions attached to them which require specific measures to minimise noise such as restrictions on hours of operation.
For further information, visit the Licensing web pages.
Construction work is inevitably noisy, but we may be able to deal with nuisance from construction and demolition sites.
Generally, noisy construction operations should be restricted to the following hours:
If you are a company planning to do construction work, it would be advisable to give notice to the Environmental Protection Team. You should also inform all local residents of your plans.
If one of our officers hears a car alarm sounding that is likely to cause a nuisance to residents in the area, a notice can be served on the owner. If the owner cannot be found within one hour, we may disconnect the alarm. If that proves impossible, the vehicle may be removed. The cost of this work will be recovered from the car owner as alarms should be properly maintained.
We can only deal with noise from loud stereos or noisy exhausts if the vehicle is in a fixed location. We cannot do anything about noise from moving vehicles but the Police may be able to deal with this.
We deal with many complaints about these. Whilst the aim of an audible alarm is to protect property from intruders, theft and damage, a continually malfunctioning alarm can cause disturbance to neighbours and can even amount to a statutory noise nuisance.
If we determine an alarm is causing a noise nuisance our officer may have to:
To avoid this action you should:
Generally we will not be able to deal with DIY noise as it is legally defined as 'short-lived'. However, if the noise goes on for a long time and/or occurs at unreasonable times of day such as late at night, then we may be able to take formal action.
If you intend to carry out any DIY, inform your neighbours in advance and avoid early morning or late at night when neighbours may be trying to sleep.
Previous legal cases have stated that noise from young children is unlikely to cause a statutory nuisance. Therefore, we will be unlikely to be able to deal with this formally.
We are not usually able to deal with this as what one person considers normal may not necessarily be the same for another. This can include noises from activities such as:
These types of noise are likely to be more apparent if there is poor insulation between properties, rather than unreasonable behaviour. For this reason, we are unlikely to be able to take any action to resolve the issue.
If a property does have poor insulation, then the responsibility to improve this rests with the home owner or landlord. There is, however, no, legal obligation to improve sound insulation on older properties.
Newer properties should now be built with enhanced sound insulation and since 2004 this has been required under Building Regulations. For further information, visit the Building Control web pages.
We do not deal with complaints about traffic noise as this tends to be dealt with by Development Control during planning. We are, however, involved in the process to try and control noises before they are created.
You can get further information by contacting:
The Environmental Protection Team gives advice to the Planning Department in relation to new developments. Where this is likely to be noisy, planning conditions can be imposed to control potential noise and some developments can even be refused on noise grounds.
New sensitive developments such as housing or schools may be required to have improved noise insulation if they are planned to be built near to existing noisy sites.
For further details about Planning procedures, visit our planning web pages.
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Environment and Regulatory Services
The Council House