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Noise problems

What we can investigate

  • Loud music from shops and licensed premises e.g. pubs and clubs
  • Loud music/dog barking from neighbours
  • Kitchen extractor fan noises e.g. from takeaway/restaurants
  • Goods delivery activities - noise from non-domestic premises at unreasonable hours
  • Industrial machinery noise
  • Entertainment/recreation noise
  • Building services noise from commercial/industrial premises e.g. heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems
  • Audible intruder alarms
  • Construction and demolition noise

What we can't investigate

While we treat all noise complaints seriously, we can't investigate:

  • Anonymous noise complaints*
  • Complaints where the complainant is unable to identify the alleged source of the noise
  • Common domestic noise (e.g. lawn mowers, washing machines, hoovers etc)
  • Emergency vehicle noise
  • Noise in the street e.g. fireworks
  • Road traffic noise (including essential maintenance)
  • Railway noise (including essential maintenance)
  • Aircraft noise

*We'll still record your complaint but we won't investigate as the law only requires officers to assess an alleged noise provided that the complainant is that person who is affected by the noise.

What you can do

We recommend that you contact your neighbour or the business yourself, explaining the noise issue and how it's affecting you, before you contact us. 

Most importantly, ask if they can do something about it. You'll probably find that in most instances they might be completely unaware that they are causing such a problem. This can resolve the issue more quickly.

To help you with this, we have a noise nuisance information pack you can downloa below and a sample letter you can send to either a resident/neighbour or a business, depending on where the alleged noise nuisance is coming from.

Noise nuisance information pack (PDF) [150KB] (opens new window)

Noise nuisance sample letter to a resident (PDF) [44KB] (opens new window)

Noise nuisance sample letter to a business (PDF) [45KB] (opens new window)

What we do following a request for service

Following recent government advice about managing coronavirus (Covid-19) and to keep people at the lowest risk possible, we'll be facilitating business differently until further notice.  

Your request for our service will be reviewed and prioritised. It will help us prioritise your complaint if you can let us know if you have already spoken to your neighbour or the business you are complaining against.

Where possible please complete a noise diary before you contact us to complain; you can download the noise diary sheet below.

Diary sheet

Our noise diary sheet should be downloaded and completed to record the disturbances for a couple of weeks.

The diary sheet must be filled out accurately, as there's a possibility that this will be used as evidence in possible legal action. Once you've completed the diary sheet, it must be signed and emailed to us at If emailing your completed diary sheets, you can also attach media files of the alleged incident, but the total size of these media files must be under 1MB.

If you prefer to return it by post, you can send it to Regulatory Services, St Helens Borough Council, PO Box 512, St Helens, WA10 9JX

We aim to contact you within a week of receiving your completed diary. 

Noise nuisance diary sheet (PDF) [199KB] (opens new window)

I've been informed I'm making too much noise; what I can do?

Knowing that someone is affected by your noise can be upsetting, but you shouldn't take it personally. By approaching you directly, the complainant may just wish to solve it with you informally. Consider what the complainant has said to you, and if you think there is truth in it, quickly take steps to reduce the noise.

If you know who's being disturbed, you may politely approach them and inform them what you've done/are planning to do to and see if it's solved the problem.

There is advice on being a good neighbour on the following pages.

Guidance on being a good neighbour

We encourage people to try to resolve noise issues between themselves before contacting us. However, if the complainant alleges that the noise is continuing, we have to investigate, and an officer will contact you. 

We always try to keep to the facts without taking sides, giving informal advice on reducing unnecessary noise.

Unfortunately, a few people choose to cause excessive noise knowingly. In these cases, we collect evidence by carrying out noise monitoring, either in person or using an unattended noise monitor in order to prove the existence or likely occurrence of a statutory noise nuisance.

We frequently get complaints about noise from loud music or TVs, DIY, barking dogs, car repairs, intruder alarms and sometimes household appliances or musical instrument practice. The best advice is to use common sense and try to be considerate of your neighbours.

Top tips to prevent noise nuisance

We frequently get complaints about noise from loud music or TVs, DIY, barking dogs, car repairs, intruder alarms and sometimes household appliances or musical instrument practice. The best advice is to use common sense and try to be considerate of your neighbours.

  • Reduce the bass
  • Keep your music or TV volume as low as possible, particularly late at night when people may be trying to sleep
  • Put speakers away from party walls and preferably on rubber mats

When you're at home:

  • Avoid slamming cupboard doors can also be annoying, especially those that are fixed to party walls. You can try using isolating wall plugs when fitting cupboards
  • Try using isolating wall plugs when fitting cupboards
  • Avoid slamming doors, especially if you live in a flat with a shared entrance, and especially late at night and early in the morning

Alarms - house and business

  • Make sure your alarm isn't faulty and ensure it complies with BS 4737. Inform key holders that you're away and ask them to make regular checks of your property.
  • There's nothing worse than a house alarm going off for no reason, so make sure your house alarm is installed correctly and serviced once a year.
  • Car and house alarms should cut out after 20 minutes.
  • Complete a key holder registration form, which will give us contact details for someone who could help us if your alarm goes off when you're away on holiday.


DIY jobs can create a lot of noise. You can reduce the impact on your neighbours by:

  • avoiding DIY activities late at night and on Sundays - if you're going to cause a great deal of noise for a prolonged period, tell your neighbour in advance.
  • informing them in advance that you're going to carry out some noisy DIY work.
  • carrying out the noisy work during normal working hours.
  • making sure that the noisiest tasks are being carried out during the time period that is likely to cause the least impact your neighbours, if you are not sure when this will be, ask them.
  • if you have to start early, try to do the quieter jobs first - some people work from home, and some people work nights.
  • seeing if there's a quieter tool available - hand tools can sometimes do the job just as well.
  • when buying power tools, always consider a quitter model.
  • make sure your devices are well maintained and using lower/quieter settings wherever possible.

Garden noise

Gardens are places to relax and entertain, but they also need maintaining. Your neighbours will be able to hear any noise you make in your garden, so:

  • carry out your noisiest activities in the middle of the day.
  • if you have a noisy job to do, warn your neighbours (this could be something like trimming your hedges or power washing your patio) - if possible, agree the best time to carry out this work with your neighbours.
  • where possible purchase quieter equipment with CE markings and maintain your equipment properly.
  • don't put noisy water features, hot tubs or wind chimes near neighbouring properties, if you can, switch them off/silence them at night or if you go away.
  • if you're planning a barbecue or party, tell your neighbours - invite them if appropriate.
  • wear headphones if you want to listen to music, or the radio while sunbathing/mowing the lawn.
  • if you want to let off fireworks, proceed with care - let your neighbours know.
  • remember, it's illegal to let off fireworks after 11:00 pm (except for Bonfire Night (5 November), Diwali, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year).


Having a party

Here are a few handy tips if you're planning a party:

  • keep your windows and doors closed when having a party.
  • if you're having an outdoor event, remember that noise will travel and affect people further away.
  • remember that noise is more likely to become a nuisance when people would generally be sleep.
  • a one-off a party will rarely be a legal nuisance; however always try to be reasonable - if you can, let the neighbours know in advance and give an approximate finishing time. Let them know that they can come round to the property if the noise is a problem. Always act to remedy the noise if you receive complaints.

Loud music

Music that's too loud can be annoying for your neighbours, so:

  • keep the volume down, especially the bass frequencies - don't place speakers on or close to party walls, ceilings or floors.
  • if you have a TV in your bedroom, please keep its volume down at night - especially if your bedroom is next to an adjoining property.
  • if you play an instrument, practice when it will least annoy your neighbours - don't use amplifiers, use headphones where possible, and use mutes for wind instruments and pads and brushes on drums.
  • if you want to listen or play music at a louder volume, use headphones - just be aware that a prolonged exposure to loud music can damage your hearing.


Pets can often be the main cause of noise complaints. It's always best to ensure:

  • if you have a caged bird, make sure you keep it where it's least likely to disturb your neighbours, especially at night.
  • that your dogs are content and comfortable, if they're not, they bark. Make sure your dog s are well-fed and exercised if you have to leave them alone. You might leave a radio on, or ask a neighbour to check on them.  A tired dog barks less. If your dog still barks, you might want to consider dog training, or doggie day-care.
  • if you have a dog which is kept in the yard or garden while you're away from the property you have no idea whether the dog is barking when you're not there. Don't leave it outside for long periods.
  • if your dog is kept inside, keep it away from party walls and away from windows.
  • if your cat goes out fighting and wailing, and a neighbour complains, you could try to make sure you keep it inside at night.

Household appliances

Using noisy household appliances can often be a cause for complaints, so you should:

  • try to purchase a quieter model when looking for new appliances.
  • place your washing machine on an even, concrete floors, don't overload the machine, and run them at a time when they'll least disturb your neighbours. Remember, the final spin is the noisiest bit.
  • try to be considerate when vacuuming - don't do it late at night or early in the morning.
  • if you're putting in a new boiler, remember the legal distances from yours and you're your neighbours windows when siting it. Get a plumber to check any pipes and cistern noises.
  • make sure extractor fans are fitted securely, to ensure they don't rattle. Keep them clean so that they run smoothly.
  • try not to put your fridge or freezer against a party wall. Vibration can pass through the building, structure and also through floors, so if you live in a flat, don't put your fridge above a neighbour's bedroom.


We recommend the following:

  • don't slam car doors, sound horns, or play your music so loud that it can be heard outside the car.
  • don't carry out car repairs in the early morning or late at night, and try to warn your neighbours in advance about the really noisy jobs.

What will happen if it is a statutory noise nuisance or anti-social behaviour?

If it can be proved that the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, we'll serve a statutory abatement notice, requesting that the noise cease immediately or after seven days. 

Noise can also be classed as anti-social behaviour (ASB) and can potentially harm an individual, or the wider community. Officers may investigate noise complaints using powers under ASB legislation. 

We can also serve notices, which requires steps to be taken to comply with this notice. If it's disregarded, it may result in a fixed penalty notice, prosecution and fines along with works being carried out in default and recharged.

The notice will request steps to be taken to reducing the noise within a specified time. There's no set period as the works required to reduce the noise will vary; for instance, a factory will require more time to replace a fan, whereas a stereo can be turned down immediately.

What is a statutory noise nuisance?

Many factors are considered to determine something is a statutory nuisance including:

  • Location - Is the noise typical for the area? A cockerel crowing in the country is more accepted than a cockerel crowing in a quiet residential area.
  • Time of day - A noise occurring late at night when most people are sleeping is far more disturbing than the same noise occurring during the day.
  • Frequency - How frequently are you affected by the noise? Noisy parties held weekly or monthly would be viewed differently to one held occasionally.
  • Duration - How long are you disturbed? A dog barking at a postman or occasional passer-by would be viewed differently to one barking most of the day.
  • Sensitivity and intensity - How loud is the noise and how intrusive is it? We all have different thresholds and tolerances. In determining nuisance, the judgement would be how the noise would affect an ordinary individual, not someone who had a particular sensitivity to the noise.
  • Number of people affected - A view will be taken on the number of people who are, or could be, affected by the noise. If only one person complains when the whole street could equally be affected, then the conclusion may be that the individual making the complaint could be unduly sensitive. 

In very few cases, the person responsible for the noise chooses not to comply with the notice. In such instances, we'll take further legal proceedings, which may include a court case and seizing all noise-making equipment such as televisions and stereos. 

If the party/individual is found guilty of failing to comply with a Noise Abatement Notice by the court, they could be given a fine and served with a criminal notice.

However, if after monitoring, we decide that the noise isn't a statutory nuisance or despite best effects we're unable to witness the noise over a reasonable period, we'll close the case. 

Taking your own action

If we've investigated and can't establish that a nuisance exists you can take your own action to the local magistrates' court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

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