Noise nuisance

Every year the Environmental Protection Team receives over 1000 complaints relating to noise from neighbours. The majority of these complaints relate to noise which need never arise if consideration is shown to neighbours regarding the potential impact of their activities. This page offers some suggestions to help prevent against causing a noise nuisance and how we will investigate complaints.

What is a noise nuisance?

A statutory noise nuisance is classed as a significant and unreasonable amount of noise which materially affects the comfort and use of your property. There are a number of factors an officer must take into account when considering if a noise amounts to a statutory nuisance. The main factors officers and the courts must consider are:

  • How loud is the noise
  • How often it happens
  • How long it lasts
  • What time does it happen
  • The character of the noise
  • The local area i.e. commercial or residential

In addition to the above, officers must determine if the noise is being caused by somebody acting in an unreasonable manner.

On the whole it is not necessary for noise readings to be taken and it is the officer’s professional judgement which would be used to determine if the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance as set out in section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Types of noise

There are many different potential sources of noise which can cause a nuisance to neighbours, below is a list of the main types of noise that we receive complaints about.

Making a complaint

Have you spoken to your neighbour? Before making a complaint to the Environmental Protection Team, it is always best to try and speak to your neighbour, as more often than not, the person or business is not aware they are causing a problem. We know from experience, that if you are able to speak to your neighbour and resolve the problem between you, it will help to maintain a good neighbourly relationship. We appreciate that this may be daunting, and officers are able to offer informal advice about the best way to go about contacting your neighbour for more information please see the leaflet – Neighbour Noise complaint (PDF, 102KB).

What if that does not work?

Despite the above, the team is aware that there are occasions when it’s not practical or possible, for whatever reason, to speak to your neighbour or you may have tried this approach and it hasn’t worked. In this instance we recommend you follow the steps below.

Step 1

Contact the Environmental Protection Team using either our Report a Noise Complaint form or via the telephone number 0300 123 5015. At this point it is important that you provide as much detail as possible relating to the complaint and in particular, you must include the correct address of where the noise is coming from and your contact details.

Your details are kept confidential and will not be disclosed to the person you are complaining about without your permission. Other information which will help the officer is detailed below:

  • The type of noise i.e. music, dogs, alarm etc
  • The time of day the noise is happening i.e. night time, day time etc
  • How often the noise happens and for how long it occurs
  • What have you done to try and resolve the problem
  • As much information as possible about the location of the noise i.e. front or back garden, which room etc please note this is especially important for complaints relating to commercial premises as there is often a range of potential noise sources and it will help to identify the problem.

Step 2

An officer will contact you to discuss the problem and explain what informal actions are available, agree which is the most appropriate for the circumstances and the timescale.

Step 3

If the noise continues, you must contact the investigating officer who will determine if a formal investigation is required. If an investigation is required, the officer will explain how your complaint will be investigated.

If, in the officers opinion, they are not satisfied that the noise is sufficient to amount to a statutory nuisance they will explain their decision and what options may be available.

Noise complaints

If you need to make a new complaint about a noise nuisance you should contact the team via the Report a Noise Complaint form or via 0300 123 5015 during office hours.

However, if you are having problems in relation to an existing noise complaint you should discuss the situation with the investigating officer during office hours, who will be able to provide more information.

Myth busting

  • You can’t make as much noise as you like between 07:00 and 23:00
  • A one off party will not necessarily be classed as a noise nuisance
  • By informing your neighbours you are having a party doesn’t mean that you can make as much noise as you like.
  • The council can take away your noise making equipment which can include stereo, Games console, speakers and even televisions, if you ignore warnings.