Noise Nuisance

Noise nuisanceComplaints about excessive noise are investigated by officers who can take action if the noise is considered to be a statutory nuisance.

 

Excessive noise can make life a misery, noisy neighbours, noise from industry or construction sites and barking dogs are just some of the problems that can be experienced.

 

What we have to remember is that no house or flat is totally sound proof, everybody must expect some noise from their neighbours and we are all affected by noise from our neighbours from time to time.

 

Neighbourhood Noise

Commercial Noise

Aircraft Noise

Traffic Noise

Barking Dogs

Bird Scarers

Fireworks

When is noise nuisance a statutory nuisance?

How do I make a complaint?

What will Community Safety & Neighbourhood Nuisance Team do?

Taking Your Own Action

Noise Complaints (Booklet) (pdf 287Kb)

How to Prevent a Noise Nuisance (Booklet) (pdf 1.36Mb) 

 

There are a number of different sources of noise pollution including:

  • Neighbourhood noise (e.g loud music)
  • Commercial noise (e.g noisy machinery, pubs and clubs)
  • Aircraft noise
  • Traffic noise
  • Barking dogs
  • Bird Scarers
  • Fire Works

Neighbourhood noise

 

Excessive noise from neighbours can be frustrating and can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and worry.  In many cases, the person making the noise is unaware that they are causing a problem and therefore the problem can be sorted out quite quickly.

 

Where this approach fails we can serve a notice on the offending party requiring them to abate the nuisance.  If such a notice is not complied with then legal action can follow.

 

Commercial noise

 

Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same way as that from domestic premises.

 

However, in some cases we may not need to prove a statutory nuisance where the premises hold a public entertainment licence.  These licences are issued in order to ensure that the disturbance caused to the general public is kept to a minimum. Action can be taken against premises that operate outside of its licensing agreement.

 

Construction sites are a very common source of noise pollution.  They are often in areas which were quiet beforehand and, therefore, the noise generated by their activities is very noticeable.  Construction noise is an anticipated part of a development and therefore a restriction on working hours is often prescribed as part of the planning permission.

 

Aircraft noise

 

Aircraft noise is excluded from Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which means that we have no direct responsibility in relation to noise from aircraft departing or landing.

 

Traffic noise is excluded from Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which means that we have no direct responsibility in relation to noise from traffic.

 

Barking dogs

 

Excessive noise from barking dogs can be frustrating and can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and worry.  In many cases, the person who owns the dog(s) is unaware that they are causing a problem and therefore the problem can be sorted out quite quickly.

 

Where this approach fails we can serve a notice on the offending party requiring them to abate the nuisance.  If such a notice is not complied with then legal action can follow.

 

Bird scarers

 

Bird scarers and bird deterrents are essential to protect many crops from damage by wild birds.  However if used thoughtlessly they can seriously annoy and disturb the public.

 

To avoid causing a nuisance, you should seek to minimise the impact of auditory scarers on your neighbours and there are steps you can take to do this:

  • Place the scarers as far away from nearby homes as practical, align them to point away from neighbours and use baffles.
  • Avoid using auditory scarers within 200 meters of sensitive buildings before 7am, or before 6am elsewhere when sunrise is earlier.  Use another method in the early morning and do not use after 10pm when sunset is later.

Fireworks

 

The Community Safety & Neighbourhood Nuisance team can only deal with noise complaints from fireworks if the fireworks are being set off from a property on a regular basis.  If the fireworks are being set off in the street then this is a Police matter.

There are several regulations concerning fireworks and they are for the

  • Use of fireworks
  • Storage of fireworks
  • Sale of fireworks.

Use

 

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 prohibit anyone under 18 from possessing fireworks, and anyone except professionals from possessing display fireworks.  These regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night (11 pm – 7 am) in England and Wales, with extensions for the following festivals:

  • Until 1 am on the night of Chinese New Year
  • Until 1 am on the night of Diwali
  • until 1 am on New Year's Eve
  • Until midnight on 5th November.

These regulations are enforced by the police.  Penalty for breach of curfew is up to £5000 fine or six months imprisonment.

 

Storage

 

Under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER) individuals can store up to 5kg of Hazard Type 4 fireworks (generally Category 1 and 2 fireworks) without a licence and for an unlimited time.  The Regulations also permit individuals to store up to 50 kg of Hazard Type 4 fireworks for private use for up to 21 days, without the need to licence or register. 

 

However, although the Regulations permit small quantities of fireworks to be kept without the need to licence or register, other requirements of the regulations - e.g. on storing safely - still apply.

 

Further information about all aspects of MSER, including information about organising a firework display, is available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

 

Sale

 

Under the regulations the sale of fireworks to anyone under 18 is banned, and caps, cracker snaps and party poppers cannot be sold to anyone under 16.  The supply of bangers, mini rockets, fireworks that fly erratically (squibs, helicopters etc), ariel shells, ariel maroons, ariel mortars, some large category 2 and 3 fireworks and all category 4 fireworks are banned from supply to the public.  This is enforced by Trading Standards.

 

Further information is available from our Firework and Bonfire Safety page.

 

When is noise nuisance a statutory nuisance?

 

Noise nuisance is covered by Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This law empowers local authorities to deal with noise from fixed premises.  Before action can be taken we have to be sure that the noise constitutes a statutory nuisance.  This means that we have to prove that the noise is prejudicial to health and/or is causing an unreasonable and persistent disturbance to your lifestyle.

 

A Statutory Noise Nuisance is much more than annoyance or the fact that noise is audible.  For a noise to be a Statutory Noise Nuisance it must be a significant or unreasonable emission of noise that materially interferes with the use and enjoyment of your home.

 

Several factors determine whether noise is a Statutory Noise Nuisance:

  • The time of day the noise occurs
  • How loud the noise is
  • How long the noise lasts
  • The character of the noise; i.e. bass beat or high pitched
  • How often the noise occurs
  • Your location

In some case, the noise may be part of another problem such as anti-social behaviour.  If the officer believes the matters of anti-social behaviour are occurring, then details will be passed to the Anti-Social Behaviour co-ordinators and joint action taken.

 

How do I make a complaint?

 

Complaints can be made to Environmental Health & Housing on 01553 616200 or by emailing csnn@west-norfolk.gov.uk, or through your local Councillor.

 

When making your complaint you must include: -

  • Your name, address and if possible a contact telephone number;
  • The address complained of and the type of nuisance;
  • When and for how long the problem normally occurs; and
  • The way the nuisance affects you.

Anonymous complaints will not be investigated.

 

What will Community Safety & Neighbourhood Nuisance do?

 

We will take your complaint and investigate.  The nature of your complaint will be discussed and you will be informed how we will deal with your complaint.  You must remember that your complaint will not be resolved overnight, investigations can take several weeks.  A letter will be sent to the person you allege to be causing the nuisance advising them of your complaint to try and attempt a quick informal resolution to any problems that may exist.

 

Please note: Your name and address will NOT be disclosed to the person complained about, however, occasionally the person may guess who has complained or may approach you to ask if you have made a complaint.  Also, if the Council decides to take legal action, you may be asked to appear in Court as a witness.

 

A letter will also be sent to you acknowledging receipt of your complaint and including a log sheet.  You will be asked to keep a record of when the nuisance occurs for 14 consecutive days after which time the completed log sheet should be returned.  There are three reasons for this:

  1. To help us assess whether the noise nuisance is likely to amount to a statutory nuisance;
  2. To indicate the times when an officer is more likely to witness the nuisance; and
  3. With your consent the log sheet may be used in evidence should formal action prove necessary.

If the completed log sheet is not returned within 28 days it will be assumed that the matter has been resolved to your satisfaction and no further action will be taken.

 

Upon receipt of your completed log sheet the Officer dealing with the complaint will attempt to witness the problem by visiting your property at the time the nuisance usually occurs.

 

If the officer is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, an Abatement Notice will be served upon the person(s) causing a problem.  Failure to comply with the Notice within the time specified is a criminal offence and may result in formal action in a Magistrates Court. Persons found guilty are liable to a fine up to £5,000 for a domestic property and up to £20,000 for an industrial/commercial property.

 

There are some occasions where the Council is unable to take formal action, either because the nuisance occurs intermittently or a statutory nuisance cannot be substantiated.  If the Council decides that formal action cannot be taken, you will be advised accordingly.

 

Taking your own action

 

In some cases, CSNN may not be able to take formal action, as we have either been unable to witness the nuisance or do not consider it to be a statutory nuisance.

 

If you nevertheless wish to pursue your nuisance complaint, there are two alternative options:

 

1. Taking action yourself in a Magistrates Court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  You will need to contact your local court to ask how to proceed but it is a good idea to write to the person causing the problem saying that unless the nuisance is stopped by a certain date you will be complaining to the Magistrates Court.  Make sure any letter is dated and signed and keep an accurate copy.  This may be enough to solve the problem or at least get it properly considered.

 

2. Taking action yourself for a 'private nuisance', which involves your local County Court.  This is a method which is best adopted after consulting a solicitor and relies on you proving on the balance of probabilities that your right to reasonable enjoyment of your property has been seriously affected.

 

Prior to taking any action you are advised to consult a solicitor.  Remember that opposing arguments raised by the defence will have to be faced in court.  Very often it is found that relations between neighbours are strained and that the nuisance complaint is just part of a greater and sometimes complicated dispute.  One thing you must do is be quite certain of the grounds of your complaint and be sure you are not overreacting to a situation which many people would find acceptable.

 

For further information email: csnn@west-norfolk.gov.uk or call 01553 616200.

 

Last updated: 02 September 2014
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