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Guide to noise nuisance

Being disturbed by noise is annoying and it can spoil the use of our homes and places of work. The information below explains how noise complaints are dealt with.

How the Council deals with noise complaints

Generally speaking the Council will investigate ongoing or regular noise problems. If the noise is a one-off or limited in duration, for example, a party, the Council is unlikely to be able to help you. The exception to this is alarms.

The majority of people making a noise are not aware they are causing a disturbance and, once they know, will reduce or stop the noise as soon as possible. This is why we ask that you approach your neighbour first before notifying the Council.

If after speaking to your neighbour the problem continues, you should submit evidence so the Council can investigate your complaint.

The Council will then contact your neighbour and will refer to the information and evidence you have submitted. The Council will not identify who has sent the information, but this maybe obvious particularly if you are the only person affected, for example noise through the party wall of a semi-detached property.

If the problem continues, it is likely that an officer will need to witness the noise. To do this they will need to come into your property and access your living areas, either to install noise monitoring equipment which you can use to record noise only when it is happening, or to witness the noise in person within your home.

Once the noise has been witnessed and likelihood of a statutory nuisance can be determined, the Council will serve a statutory abatement notice, requiring the noise is stopped. This maybe done immediately or after seven days.

The notice will require that steps are taken to reduce the noise nuisance within a specified time. The time period will vary, for instance a factory will require more time to replace a fan, whereas a stereo can be turned down immediately.

In very few cases, the person responsible for the noise chooses not to comply with the statutory abatement notice. In such instances, the Council will take further legal proceedings and this may include a court case. Failure to comply with a Noise Abatement Notice is a criminal offence with a maximum fine up to £20,000. However, if after monitoring the Council:

  • decides the noise is not a or unreasonable and persistent; or
  • despite best effects is unable to witness the noise over a reasonable period of time.

The case will be closed. This is not to say that the noise is not an issue, but that the Council can not reasonably solve it. In these circumstances you can take your own action at the magistrates court.

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