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Noise problems

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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