We receive many complaints about different types of noise including alarms, loud music, construction sites, barking dogs, DIY, kitchen extract systems, and air conditioning units. The Council has legal powers to deal with noise that is a ‘nuisance’.
What is a noise nuisance?
A simple definition of noise is 'unwanted sound'. When this unwanted sound becomes a nuisance depends on various factors. Faced with an accusation of causing a noise nuisance, it is useful to ask yourself a number of sensible questions - these are the sorts of questions which an investigating officer or a Magistrate would ask:
- 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?
Environmental Officers will apply their professional judgement in each case when making a decision.
Are you suffering from a noise problem?
If you are 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 are not even aware that they are causing a problem to someone else.
If talking to the person does not help, you cannot find the person responsible to talk to, or you do not feel comfortable approaching the person you can contact us to ask for assistance.
If the person lives in a council house, contact our Housing Services as a condition of their tenancy includes a requirement that tenants do not cause nuisance.
How will your complaint be investigated?
Initially we can write to the person responsible for the noise advising them that the we are investigating a complaint about their noise and requesting that they stop all cause for complaint. Where possible, Mediation will be offered to both parties.
We will ask you to keep a diary for 2-3 weeks. Once your completed diary has been received, an officer can then decide what further steps are necessary, if any. If further investigation is necessary, noise recording equipment can be installed in to your property and/or visits arranged to try and witness the noise.
Please note that if after three visits to try and witness the noise and/or installation of the noise equipment the noise is not considered to be a ‘nuisance’ the case will be closed and no further action will be taken.
If the noise problem persists and the officer investigating your complaint determines that the noise is a nuisance or statutory nuisance further action will be taken. If it’s a nuisance the ASB route will be taken. If it’s a statutory nuisance it’s likely that a noise abatement notice will be served on the person responsible for the noise if all other attempts to resolve the problem have not worked.
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. The notice can be appealed against to the Magistrates’ Court and it may be necessary for you to give evidence as a witness.
Once a notice is served, it is 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 should breaches of the notice be witnessed by an authorised officer.
Action by you
If you are the occupier of premises affected by noise, you can under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 complain directly to a Magistrates Court. You may wish to do this because you do not want to involve us or that we are not able to help you with your case.