Noise nuisance

Neighbour noise such as amplified music, barking dogs, late night parties and DIY can greatly impact on people's daily lives.

 What is nuisance noise?

Sometimes a noise may be annoying but it may not be a nuisance as far as the law is concerned.  To be a nuisance, the following factors are considered:

Disturbance: the noise must interfere with your enjoyment of living in your home, for example, by preventing you sleeping or reading

Loudness: the louder the noise the more likely it is to be a nuisance

Duration: the longer the noise goes on for, the more likely it is to be nuisance

Occurrence: the more the noise occurs the more likely it is to be a nuisance

Time of day: noise can be a nuisance at any time of the day or night

Type of noise: the more annoying the noise (e.g. a whistle or whine) the more likely it is to be a nuisance

Locality: people living in different areas e.g. town and country can expect to hear different types and levels of noise

Your Sensitivity: if you have an above average sensitivity to noise then the law may not consider the noise a nuisance


Noise Nuisance the Council can and cannot investigate

What the Council can investigate:

  • Dog barking
  • Loud music/shouting etc. from neighbours
  • Extractor fans/ventilation systems e.g. from takeaway restaurants, factories
  • Shop delivery trucks at unreasonable hours e.g. before 07:00 or after 23:00
  • Industrial machinery
  • Entertainment noise from pubs/clubs
  • Alarms
  • Construction/demolition noise

All complaints are treated seriously, however we cannot investigate:

  • Anonymous complaints
  • Noise from unknown sources
  • Day-to-day domestic noise (e.g. mowing, washing machines, vacuuming etc.)
  • Fireworks in the street
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Road traffic noise, railway noise or aircraft noise - The Civil Aviation Authority, Network Rail, Highways England

What you can do if are suffering from noise nuisance

Wherever possible, the first thing to do is to approach your neighbour. Politely explain that you are being troubled by the noise, ask them to stop or reduce the noise to an acceptable level and keep a written record of your conversation. If the problem continues, write to them explaining the effect that the noise is having on you. Ask them to stop or reduce the noise and refer to any previous conversations you may have had. Keep a copy of your letter and start a diary of events that disturb you.

We have produced letter templates, which you may wish to use.

Noise nuisance caused by a neighbour Initial letter Initial letter pdf Follow up letter Follow up letter pdf

Noise nuisance caused by a licensed premises letter template letter template pdf

Many disputes are best settled by people talking about the problems and showing consideration for each other. This may be assisted by use of a mediation service if available. The Citizens' Advice Bureau can advise on the availability of local services.

What happens if the noise continues?

If the noise continues you can make a complaint to the Environmental Protection Team and start to complete a noise log sheet (MS Word version) to record the noise you are experiencing.

The noise log sheet will help the Council to decide how to deal with the noise.

You can return your completed noise log sheets  to Environmental Protection Team, SSDC, Council Offices, Brympton Way, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 2HT or email enhpollution@southsomerset.gov.uk


How we will investigate your complaint

We will contact the person/business to make them aware that a complaint has been raised and ask them to resolve the issues.

At no time during an investigation will your identity be discussed with the person complained about unless the Council is legally bound to do so. This usually occurs only when Court proceedings are necessary.

If this is unsuccessful, we may need to carry out noise monitoring which will require access to your property and you will be asked to keep records of how you are affected by the noise.

The investigating officer will then determine whether a statutory nuisance exists, or in the case of a business, whether they have demonstrated best practicable means.

The law recognises that some businesses have to make a noise in connection with their lawful operations. Therefore Business and Trade premises are able to defend against an abatement notice by demonstrating that they are employing the "Best Practicable Means" to prevent or minimise noise nuisance. In taking abatement action the Council will have regard to this defence.

If it the Council is confirmed satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, it will point this out to the person responsible and will seek to resolve the problem informally. If this is not possible, an Abatement Notice will be served requiring the person responsible to stop or reduce abate the nuisance. The person receiving the notice can appeal against the terms of the notice at the Magistrates Court.

We can only take court action following the service of an abatement notice which has not been complied with. This will only be considered as a last resort. If the Council initiates court proceedings then you must be prepared to give evidence to the Court under oath.

 

Penalties

A person who is found guilty of an offence is liable to a maximum fine of £5000, or in the case of businesses £20,000.

 

Individual Action

When we investigate noise complaints we do so from an impartial position. You may be advised that no nuisance was found or that it was not possible to gather evidence of nuisance even after reasonable investigations. In such circumstances you can take your complaint directly to the Magistrates Court using the procedure set out in Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

To do this you will still require a substantial amount of evidence and should contact the Clerk of the Court at the local Magistrates Court to discuss the procedure. You may also wish to seek independent legal advice.

We have produced an information pack to help you understand the process

 

Useful information

Report noise nuisance online

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

Enforcement Policy