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Noise and other disturbances we investigate

We have the power to investigate and deal with noise problems and other statutory nuisances. This includes problems that are happening now, and also those that might happen in the future.

Report a disturbance to us

The form asks you to tell us the time, length, location and how the disturbance is affecting you.

We prioritise noise and antisocial behaviour issues that have the most significant and persistent negative impact.

We will assess your complaint and contact you within 48 working hours. 

Noise problems we deal with

We investigate complaints about excessive and intrusive noise from: 

  • loud music, TV or radio

  • parties or other entertainment

  • pubs, clubs and entertainment venues

  • building and DIY work at unreasonable times of the day

  • constant dog barking

  • car and burglar alarms. 

Noise complaints we cannot deal with

There are some complaints that we legally cannot deal with, no matter how many complaints we get. These are complaints:

  • received anonymously

  • where the source of the noise is unknown

  • about aircraft or railway noise

  • about people shouting, laughing or screaming on a public road or footpath

  • about road traffic on the public highway

  • about late night deliveries

  • about approved road works

  • about approved commercial construction work.  

What is a statutory nuisance?

There is no strict definition of statutory nuisance. But it is generally defined as a disturbance that: 

  • interferes with someone's right to enjoy their home or
  • is damaging to someone's health.

Statutory nuisances can include:

  • noise

  • smells from commercial premises

  • smoke

  • artificial light

  • insects. 

Causes

Causes of statutory nuisance can include: 

  • badly maintained premises

  • fumes or gases coming from a premises

  • dust, steam or effluvia

  • animals that are poorly kept or mistreated.

Assessing a possible statutory nuisance

For a statutory nuisance to exist, it must be shown that the issue is either: 

  • damaging to your health

  • significantly interfering with your reasonable enjoyment of your property

  • happening regularly

  • going on for an unreasonable period of time. 

It is not enough for the issue to be merely annoying or disturbing. We can only take action if what is disturbing you can be legally defined as a statutory nuisance and evidence is gathered (e.g. diary sheets) to prove it is taking place. 

There is no specific level of disturbance or time period that defines a statutory nuisance. We assess each situation individually.

Factors we consider when assessing a statutory nuisance

We will consider things like: 

  • the time of day/night of the disturbance

  • the length of the disturbance

  • how often the problem occurs

  • the nature of the disturbance

  • whether the disturbance is an exception or is socially accepted (e.g. bonfire night or church bells)

  • how the disturbance is affecting you

  • where in your property you are affected by the disturbance. 

What is not a statutory nuisance?

The following are unlikely to be a statutory nuisance:  

  • a one-off party

  • neighbours arguing

  • a lawnmower used during the day

  • home cooking smells

  • general domestic noise

  • noise because of poor insulation between properties

  • a baby crying, children playing or dogs barking occasionally. 

What we do about statutory nuisance

  • We have powers to serve an abatement notice under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. We will only do this if we believe a statutory nuisance has taken place or is likely to take place.
  • This notice may require them to stop the activity causing the nuisance and can include specific actions to reduce the problem.
  • If they breach the abatement notice, they could be prosecuted and get a fine of up to £5,000.