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What is a noise nuisance?

A simple definition of noise is 'unwanted sound'.

Unwanted sound is not always a ‘statutory nuisance’ and to establish if this is the case, it's useful to ask yourself the following sensible questions:

  1. Is the noise loud, and/or does it have some other annoying quality which makes it disturbing?
  2. Is it frequent and how long does it normally last?
  3. Does the noise occur at unreasonable times, such as very early in the morning or too late in the evening?
  4. Is it due to unreasonable behaviour, and is the noise problem easily put right?
  5. Does the noise arise from normal behaviour?
  6. Is the real problem poor sound insulation between the premises?
  7. Crucially, would a reasonable person consider the noise to be a nuisance, having regard to the circumstances?

We will apply our professional judgement in each case based on the evidence provided, when making a decision.

Follow the steps below to find out how noise complaints will be investigated in Mid Devon:

If the noise is coming from a Mid Devon District council property, please contact the relevant Neighbourhood Officer in our Housing team who will follow the investigation procedure for our tenants. If the source is a private premises:

Step 1

Speak to the person making the noise and ask them whether the noise can be reduced or stopped. Often people aren't even aware that they're causing a problem to someone else.

Step 2

If talking to the person doesn't help, you cannot find the person responsible to talk to, or you don't feel comfortable approaching the person, you must contact the Councils Public Health Service to register the problem. You will be asked to provide important details on a nuisance referral form.

Please complete the nuisance referral form and email it to:, or by post to the Council.

nuisance referral form(PDF)
nuisance referral form(DOCX)
nuisance referral form(ODT)

These files may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format or to request the form in the post, please email or contact us on 01884 255255.

Step 3

Once we have received the completed nuisance referral form, your investigating officer will ask you to complete and return diary sheets. We will simultaneously write to the alleged perpetrator to make them aware that a complaint has been made to give them the opportunity to remediate any potential nuisance without any further involvement from the council.

Once you've returned two to three weeks of completed diary sheets, we will review the evidence and decide whether further action is necessary.

We'll contact you to discuss the next steps. This may involve visits from an officer to witness the noise directly. In some cases noise recording equipment may be installed instead. This will be to gather further evidence and to establish whether formal action should be taken.

It's imortant your diary sheets are accurate! If we visit on three separate occasions and a nuisance cannot be detected, the case will be closed and no further action can be taken.


Where possible, Mediation will be offered to all parties.


If the council determine there is a nuisance, we'll consider the most appropriate course of action. This could involve using anti-social behaviour powers, or a noise abatement notice could be served on the person responsible for the noise.

A noise abatement notice is a legal document that requests the recipient to reduce, limit or stop the noise that is causing the problem within a certain time period. Please be aware that an appeal against an abatement notice can be submitted to the Magistrates’ Court, in which case you may be required to give evidence as a witness.

Once a notice is served, it's a criminal offence to continue to cause a ‘statutory nuisance’ after the time period has expired. We can prosecute and/or seize noise making equipment if we witness a breach of the notice.

If you don't wish to involve the Council or we're unable to help with your case, you may choose to take your own action.

If you're the occupier of a premises affected by noise, section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows you to complain directly to a Magistrates Court.

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