Our small team of officers, who have recognised specialist qualifications in the field of acoustics and noise control, deal with around 1300 noise complaints every year. The most common noise complaints include:
- DIY activities
- Barking Dogs or other noisy animals
- Wind farms
- Commercial or industrial processes
- Construction/demolition sites
- Pubs /clubs or other areas of public entertainment
- Burglar alarms
- Anti-social behaviour
There are also some sources of noise that cannot be dealt with under legislation, including:
- Normal use of someone’s property, e.g. washing machine, flushing of toilets, walking up and down stairs
- Traffic noise on public roads
- Reasonable amounts of dog barking
- Children playing
There is no fixed level at which noise becomes a statutory nuisance, as defined by Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. A number of factors must be taken into consideration, such as time the noise occurs, duration of the noise, necessity for the noise, noise levels, nature of the locality etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the large numbers of complaints we receive, a procedure has been developed to ensure that each complaint is dealt with consistently and fairly. Complaints that are made anonymously are not usually pursued because an assessment needs to be made of how the noise being complained of affects the person making a complaint.
If you are making a complaint, your details will not be disclosed to the noise source, but they may have to be provided in the event that a noise nuisance case ends up in court.
We will make an assessment of the facts known about the case, including any evidence obtained through monitoring, and will make a reasoned judgement on whether or not the noise being complained of amounts to a statutory noise nuisance.
This is not the case. Judgement of the presence of a Statutory Noise Nuisance is dependent on a number of factors. Whilst one factor is the time of day, noise could still be deemed a Statutory Nuisance throughout daytime hours if it is judged to be loud, persistent and/or frequent enough.
This is not the case. It is very difficult for us to prove anything that could be considered reasonable use of one’s property, such as the closing of doors, to be a Statutory Nuisance. There are however extreme circumstances whereby we may be able to take action, such as the constant incessant slamming of doors or banging whereby it can be clearly demonstrated that there is malice involved.
No, unfortunately due to resourcing issues a dedicated ‘out of hours’ service is not possible. However, where it is required officers will on occasion undertake pre-arranged visits out of normal working hours. We have also invested heavily in noise monitoring equipment to provide a ’24 hour presence’ in investigations where the noise takes place overnight.
The Local Authority has a Statutory duty to investigate all noise complaints received. Officers will undertake a comprehensive investigation, which may involve visiting the complainant or installing noise monitoring equipment within a complainant’s home to assess the noise disturbance before deciding on an appropriate course of action, if any.
No, we do not inform them of any dates or times when monitoring is going to take place. We inform the source of the complaint of our investigation with the aim of resolving the matter at the outset, but a monitoring schedule is not disclosed.
The equipment is typically installed in the room you are most disturbed by the noise. This must be a habitable room where you spend a significant amount of time, so kitchens, bathrooms and hallways are not suitable. Monitoring equipment can also be installed in the garden on occasions, but only where you are predominantly disturbed by the noise when outside.
No, audio is only taken when a complainant presses a trigger switch to indicate they are disturbed by the noise, at which point it records for a period before knocking back off. Rest assured, your privacy is protected and the equipment only records when you activate it.
People are sometimes concerned that our sound level meters need to be fixed to a wall or fixture within a room when we install them, resulting in damage to the property This is not the case, the kit is installed on a professional camera style tripod and the only thing we require is an electricity socket for a power supply in order to power the equipment.
There are times when, despite our best efforts, a noise complaint cannot be pursued any further. This may be due to our judgement that a noise nuisance does not exist, or because there is a lack of supporting evidence to make a strong case. We understand that you may feel aggrieved that we are taking no further action, however we will advise you that under S82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 you can take own action in respect of an alleged statutory noise nuisance.
We deal with noise complaints arising from public entertainment venues, including pubs, clubs, outdoor events, and sporting occasions.
The majority of venues providing entertainment require a license.
We deal with many issues and queries relating to wind turbines. These can range from a small domestic wind turbine generator serving a single property, to a large scale wind farm development of sufficient generating capacity to be of national significance.
A specific procedure has been developed to investigate noise complaints from wind turbines:
There are provisions contained within section 60 and 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to control noise from construction or demolition sites.
Section 61 of the Act enables a person who intends to carry out works on a construction site to apply for prior consent. There are steps that must be followed when considering an application for prior consent, and sufficient time periods prior to commencement of work must be allowed before consent can be granted. If consent is granted, it will usually contain conditions that must be complied with in order to minimise noise as far as is reasonably possible.
Further information on this process and an outline of the kind of information we need is contained within this document:
Many noise complaints relate to misfiring or faulty burglar alarms. In cases where the persistent sounding of an alarm gives rise to a statutory noise nuisance, we have the power to obtain a warrant to enter a property and stop the alarm sounding. If this course of action is taken, it is usually done accompanied by a police officer and an alarm specialist.
In order to avoid the need for obtaining a warrant and forcibly entering a property to deal with a faulty alarm, we keep a register of nominated key holders for properties with alarms. This is a confidential register and makes contacting someone who can assist with a faulty alarm if the home owner is away a simple process.
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