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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:

  • Is the noise loud, and/or does it have some other annoying quality which makes it disturbing?
  • Is it frequent and/or how long does it normally last?
  • Does the noise occur at unreasonable times, such as very early in the morning or too late in the evening?
  • Is it due to unreasonable behaviour, and is the noise problem easily put right?
  • Does the noise arise from normal behaviour?
  • Is the real problem poor sound insulation between the premises?
  • 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 we process noise complaints:

If you're being affected by noise coming from another person’s land or house, the first step is to 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.

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 should contact the Councils Public Health Service and complete a nuisance referral form.

Once we have received the Nuisance Referral Form you can download and use The Noise App - to keep a record of the noise you are experiencing - please refer to the guidance below on how to use The Noise App.

You must notify us that you are using the noise app so that we can unblock your account and we can receive your recordings. If you do not notify us then we will not know that you are using the app and will not be able to see your recordings.

If you don’t have access to a smart phone and you're unable to download The Noise App, let us know and we will provide you with paper diary sheets

Please complete the nuisance referral form and email it to:, or by post to the Council before submitting any Noise App recordings. A copy of the nuisance referral form is available below.

Public Health and Regulatory Service
Phoenix House
Phoenix Lane
EX16 6PP

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.

Paper diary sheets will then be sent to you to keep a record of instances of noise over a period of two to three weeks.

At this stage of the process, we are obliged to send a letter to the occupier(s) of the household alleged to be causing the noise, advising them that we've been made aware of a possible issue.


Where possible, Mediation will be offered to all parties.

The noise app logoThe Noise App

The Noise App, produced and distributed by RHE, is available for iPhone and Android. It provides users with an easy way to capture noise nuisances and report it safely and securely to us. The Noise App is a smart tool for professionals investigating complaints about noise and anti-social behaviour and makes it easier for everyone involved to resolve them.The Noise App

Features include:

  • Free to download and start recording noise
  • Easy to create and send Noise Reports safely and securely to us
  • Listen to your recordings with audio playback before you send
  • Report perceived noise intensity and how the noise is affecting you
  • Instant messaging and notifications from us

To download the app, visit or search ‘The Noise App’ on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

For instructions on how to create an account and use the app, please read the online user guide.

Watch the following videos to find out more about the Noise App:



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

If further investigation is required, we'll contact you to discuss the next steps. This may involve visits from us to witness the noise directly or having noise recording equipment installed. This will be to gather further evidence and to establish whether formal action should be taken.

If recording equipment has been installed or we've visited on three separate occasions and a nuisance has not been detected, the case will be closed and no further action will be taken.

If the noise is coming from one of our council properties, please contact the relevant Neighbourhood Officer in our Housing team.

For cases where we've determined a noise complaint is causing a nuisance, we'll determine the most appropriate route to take further action. This could involve using anti-social behaviour powers, or if the noise represents a statutory nuisance, then it's likely that a noise abatement notice will 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. It should be noted 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 us or we're unable to help with your case, you may want 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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