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Noise Nuisance

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What Is a Noise Nuisance ?

A noise nuisance is a significant and unreasonable amount of sound from a neighbouring premises, domestic or commercial, that affects you in a significant and unreasonable way. It is much more that simply an annoyance or a noise that is audible.

There are no hard and fast rules about when a noise is a nuisance. The main factors that officers and the courts take into account are: time of day, location, duration of each individual noise event, volume of the noise, character of the noise and the frequency with which noisy events occur.

It is not necessary for officers to take noise readings to establish if a nuisance exists, although sometimes this can help. On the whole the judgement of an experienced and independent officer is enough to determine if a noise is unreasonable or not.

What if You Are Being Bothered by Noise?

First of all tell the source of the problem about it. In three quarters of cases one neighbour does not know that they are causing problems for another.

If you are really annoyed then calm down before approaching your neighbour or writing them a letter. You will be much better able to explain your grievance in a reasonable way and so you are much more likely to get a positive response. You could also try sending them one of our information leaflets that are designed to provide ideas about solving noise problems. The topics currently covered include:

If this doesn't work then use our online form to REPORT A NOISE ISSUE or call us on 01509 634636 and we will try to help using our powers under the Environmental Protection Act. We primarily investigate nuisance issues under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  However we do now have additional powers under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which we may use where appropriate. We will initially ask you to keep a diary in which we need you to record dates and times of when you are being bothered by the noise in question. This is crucial information, as it will allow us to establish if the circumstances are sufficiently serious to take formal action and will be used as evidence if legal proceedings have to be taken later.

In extreme cases we do short-circuit this part of the procedure, for example if it appears that the noise is continuous or causing widespread disturbance which will not stop without quick intervention.

We do not accept anonymous complaints. All too often we are seen as a possible weapon after a falling out between neighbours and so we want some confidence that there is substance behind any allegations. Besides this, the service is aimed at helping you solve your problem - unless somebody can stand up and confirm that they are being affected by a noise then the noise cannot in law be causing a nuisance.

For further information on how we investigate nuisance noise refer to Dealing with Neighbour Nuisance (PDF Document, 0.24 Mb)

Where a complainant is not happy that we have adequately investigated the complaint they may either complain via the Councils own Corporate Complaints procedure or, following this, to the Local Authority Ombudsman.

For such a difficult area of law to enforce we take some satisfaction that about 60% of people who use our service tell us that we have either improved or solved their complaints.

Return to the Environmental Protection Homepage

Advice if You Are the Subject of a Complaint

Please see our Advice if a Neighbour Makes a Nuisance Complaint About You Fact Sheet (PDF Document, 0.2 Mb)for our list of frequently asked questions which commonly occur during investigations.

Effects of Noise

For information about the possible effects of noise click on the link.

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