Noise problem

Noise pollution

Noise can also be described as unwanted sound. The council has a duty to investigate noise complaints made by residents and businesses. Please see below for information on the type of complaints that can be made, how they are investigated, and the legislation regarding noise.

If you wish to make a complaint regarding noise, please complete the online form or call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Domestic noise control

Complaints made to the council about noise include loud music and party noise, barking dogs, loud voices, intruder alarms, car repairs, radios and televisions, children playing and household appliances.

Officers can investigate complaints to see if the noise classes as a statutory nuisance and needs enforcement action or prosecution. For noise to be considered to be a statutory nuisance there must be evidence of the effect that the noise has upon the complainant. The legislation that officers use to deal with domestic noise complaints is part of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The investigation of your domestic noise complaint will be to identify if a statutory nuisance exists, and if it does, to serve the appropriate notices and prosecute the noise-maker for breaches of the notice.

Sometimes, noise complaints are made about people partying in the street and being involved in anti-social behaviour. Find out more about making an anti-social behaviour complaint.

Noise from intruder alarms

Intruder alarms which sound frequently and/or for long periods of time are a common cause for complaint. When alarms malfunction they can cause a nuisance and disturb people living or working nearby.

If noise from an alarm classes as a statutory nuisance the council may serve a notice upon the premises which requires the owner to have the alarm disconnected to end the nuisance. The owner or person responsible for the alarm will be charged if the council have to take action to silence an alarm.

If you have an alarm fitted to your premises you should make sure that it operates correctly and is serviced regularly. An intruder alarm should be fitted with a cut out device which resets the alarm after 20 minutes. You may also wish to notify the council of a key holder for your premises who can be contacted to reset the alarm if it causes a nuisance.

If you would like to register a key holder for your alarm please contact the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001 for further details.

Noise and planning process

The planning process allows for conditions to be applied to planning permissions. Conditions relating to noise are either to protect future inhabitants of the new development from existing noise or to protect existing residents from noisy proposed developments.

When commercial premises are built close to residential premises an assessment of noise may be required before planning permission can be granted, to ensure that the noise from the new development will not cause disturbance to the existing neighbours. The British Standard BS4142 is used to provide an assessment of noise from industrial and commercial premises as part of the planning process.

Conditions may be attached to plans which require an assessment of the noise likely to be emitted from plant and equipment. If the assessment indicates that noise levels will be increased at neighbouring premises then a scheme detailing how the noise will be reduced will be required.

Read more about noise and the planning process.

Noise from construction sites

Noise is often created during the process of constructing buildings. Legislation is available to control noise from construction and demolition sites.

The Control of Pollution Act 1974 allows developers to apply for a prior consent. The council has to consider the application based upon the noise levels predicted during construction, the working hours proposed and the methods that will be used in the construction. The local authority must then either refuse, approve, or approve the application with conditions. Once approval has been given the developer can carry on with the works as long as they comply with legislation and application conditions.

In the event that a prior consent has not been given, this does not stop construction works from being carried out, as the application for a prior consent is not mandatory. However the council may use a section of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to control noise from the site and hours of working so that the noise and/or vibration does not cause disturbance to neighbouring premises.

You should be aware that all work on construction sites will generate noise. In some cases, for example when there are health and safety issues, it may be that noisy work will have to be undertaken at times when people would normally expect it to be quiet. In these situations every attempt should be made to keep the level of noise generated on the site to a minimum.

If you wish to make a complaint regarding construction noise, please complete the online form or call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Noise from commercial premises

The legislation used in relation to commercial premises is the law of statutory nuisance (under the Environmental Protection Act 1990). Collecting evidence for a complaint about commercial noise is similar to a domestic complaint, however it is easier to predict when the noise will occur so officers have more ability to witness the noise first-hand rather than relying upon recorded evidence.

Typical noise complaints from commercial premises would be noisy fans or refrigeration plant, early morning or late night deliveries and collections, and machinery noise from inside the premises at night.

If you wish to make a complaint regarding noise from a commercial premises, please complete the online form or call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Noise from licensed premises

Premises wishing to have live music or recorded music for dancing will often need to be licensed. The licensing legislation allows conditions to be placed upon the licence to control the noise that escapes so that it doesn't disturb people who live nearby.

Certain outdoor events may also require a licence before they can be held. Events such as concerts and live bands playing in the open air which require a licence will often have conditions which set permitted noise limits. The permitted noise limit will vary depending on the area where the event is taking place and the number of events that will be held at the site each year.

You should be aware that some outdoor events which have been organised using the provision of a Temporary Event Notice will not have noise conditions attached to the licence.

In the event that evidence exists identifying that a licensed premises has breached the requirement of its licence to control noise or is permitting the noise from the premises to cause a disturbance to neighbouring premises then a review of the licence can be undertaken to remedy the situation.

If you wish to make a complaint regarding noise from a licensed premises, please complete the online form or call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Noise from mobile vendors

Mobile shops and ice cream vans will often use chimes or music to attract attention. In some instances the chimes they play may cause annoyance or disturbance to residents in the area. Legislation restricting the use of loudspeakers states that it is an offence for a mobile vendor to sound their chimes etc. before 12 noon or after 7pm. It is also an offence for the chimes to be sounded at any time in a way which gives reasonable cause for annoyance.

The Code of Practice on Noise from Ice-Cream Van Chimes etc. in England 2013 was written as a good practice guide for the use of chimes used by mobile shops.

It states that chimes should not be played:

  • for longer than 12 seconds at a time
  • more often than once every 2 minutes
  • more than once when the vehicle is stationary at a selling point
  • except on approach to or at a selling point
  • when in sight of another vehicle which is trading
  • when within 50 metres of schools (during school hours), hospitals and places of worship (on Sundays and other recognised days of worship)
  • more often than once every 2 hours in the same length of street
  • louder than 80dB(A) at 7.5 metres
  • as loudly in quiet areas or narrow streets as elsewhere. 

If you wish to make a complaint regarding chimes played by mobile vendors, please complete the online form or call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.