Information and guidance about noise nuisance
Statutory Nuisance legislation
The EPA 1990 provides control over "Statutory Nuisances", including noise nuisances.
Under the EPA 1990 the local council have a duty to respond to complaints of noise nuisance and when satisfied that one exists take the appropriate action to abate it.
The EPA 1990 gives us the power to take action against people who make loud noise.
Examples of potential noise nuisance
Below are some examples of noises that may be Statutory Noise Nuisances:
- Music and speech from HiFi's and TV's operated at excessive volume
- Dogs barking for prolonged periods
- DIY activities at unreasonable times
- Burglar Alarms that develop faults and sound repeatedly or do not cut out
- Vehicle Alarms that develop faults and sound repeatedly
- Music 'breakout' from Licensed premises such as Pubs and Nightclubs
- Noise from industrial and commercial processes and activities that are not using 'Best Practicable Means' to control or minimise noise
- Noise from demolition or construction sites occurring at unreasonable times.
The statutory nuisance provisions do not cover some sources of noise and therefore the local authority cannot take action under these provisions.
- Aircraft (other than model aircraft) - contact the Civil Aviation Authority
- Road Traffic
What is a statutory noise nuisance?
This is not an easy thing to define.
For a noise to be considered as a statutory nuisance it would be something that interferes unreasonably with your enjoyment of your property.
Factors considered include level of noise, frequency of occurrence, time of day, duration, nature of the area etc.
It is unlikely that the following would be considered as a statutory nuisance:
- Lawnmowers used during the day
- Babies crying
- Dogs barking occasionally
- General everyday living noises (such as using the washing machine during the day)
What to do in the first instance
Noise from neighbours can cause disturbance and be particularly annoying if this affects our quality of life, for example, lack of sleep. If at all possible it is better to initially discuss the problem with your neighbour, as often, an investigation by the Local Authority may lead to a serious breakdown in neighbour relations.
If you feel you can approach your neighbour regarding a potential noise problem be calm and polite. In most cases, people are unaware of the problem they are causing. Threatening behaviour will not help to resolve the problem and can often make things worse.
Explain to your neighbour that the noise is disturbing you and your family. If loud amplified music is the problem, invite them to come into your home so they can listen to it from your position.
In the event the noise is emanating from a rented property you may consider approaching the landlord. This may be a registered social landlord such as LHP, Longhurst Housing or an individual private sector landlord.
However if is not possible to discuss with your neighbour or if the noise problem continues you can contact our Pollution Section on 01205 314200.
Action by environmental protection
After you have made a request for service to Environmental Protection, an officer assigned to your service request will explain the procedure to be followed. You will be sent a letter, together with a nuisance record sheet on which you should record any further incidents.
A letter will also be sent to the person you are making the complaint about requesting that they reduce the noise. This will give the person an opportunity to consider their actions and may well result in reduction of the disturbance. Any details you provide us with will be kept confidential. In the case of where noise is emanating from a rented property a letter may also be sent to the landlord of the property.
If conditions improve, you may wish to do nothing further. The case officer will keep your request open for 21 days, after which it will normally be closed unless you have contacted us in the meantime.
If the conditions do not improve you should complete the nuisance record sheet, as these will be needed as evidence, should the case proceed onto a more formal stage. These should then be returned to us to assess if there is a potential statutory nuisance. Be careful to make records as the events happen, not sometime later and try not to exaggerate.
If the case officer is suspect noise amounting to a statutory nuisance is being caused, then he/she may wish to witness the disturbance by way of monitoring visits or by installing noise monitoring equipment in your home to record any noisy events. A second letter more strongly worded letter may also be sent to your neighbour.
If having witnessed the noise, officers are satisfied that a statutory nuisance is occurring, a noise abatement notice will be served on the person responsible for the noise. Failure to comply with such a notice is an offence and will usually result in seizure of equipment and/or prosecution. At this point it may be necessary for your name and address to be disclosed.
If officers do not witness the noise then you will be advised in writing on how to pursue your own legal action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Advice regarding common sources of noise complaints
Along with amplified music this is the most common source of complaint received by us and therefore a specific advisory leaflet has been produced which gives information on why dogs bark and some advice on how to reduce barking.
If a complaint is made about your dog bear in mind that you may not be aware of the extent of the problem if you are not at home when the dog is barking. The dog may behave differently when left alone. Ask your neighbours to tell you exactly when it is occurring and for how long. It may be useful to try and witness the barking yourself. Keep your neighbour informed of any steps you are taking to try and stop the barking.
Keep the volume down especially during the later evening, night or early morning. Better still use headphones if you want to play your music loud or late at night. Place speakers away from party walls and stand them on insulating materials. If you are having a party, consider inviting the neighbours, keep windows and doors closed and if someone complains turn the music down.
Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same way as that from domestic premises.
Where the premises hold a premises licence under the Provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 e.g. Public House, Nightclub action may be taken under these provisions in addition to statutory nuisance provisions. These licences are issued in order to ensure that the disturbance caused to the general public is kept to a minimum. Action can be taken against premises that operate outside of its licensing conditions. In the case of complaints relating to licensed premises or for further information you should in the first instance contact the Licensing Team.
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 prohibit the use of Fireworks at night between the hours of 11pm and 7am with extensions for the following festivals:
- Until 1:00am on the night of the Chinese New Year
- Until 1:00am on the night of Diwali
- Until 1:00am on New Year's Eve
- Until Midnight on November 5th
The Police enforce these regulations.
We have noted an increase in the numbers of complaints relating to cockerels crowing over recent years linked to the increased numbers of people keeping poultry in their gardens. Cockerels can be noisy and very careful consideration should be given to keeping them in residential areas. Remember you do not need a cockerel to produce eggs for the breakfast table.
Several measures can be used to minimise cockerel crowing:
- Location of the cockerel - It is important to ensure that the cockerel is located as far away as practicable from neighbouring residential properties. Shut them away at night.
- Competition - Other cockerels in the area will cause them to compete with each other and may result in excess crowing.
- Housing - Keep the coop as dark as possible to minimise early morning crowing as a cockerel will crow when light enters the coop. The coop ceiling can also be lowered to prevent the cockerel throwing back its head and crowing.
Most people have jobs, which need doing around the home, especially if they have just moved in, or are redecorating. We also have to accept that many people have jobs during the day and need to do DIY work in the evenings and at weekends.
However, this does not give them permission to annoy neighbours at all hours of the day and night or for the work to simply go on and on. We all have to be reasonable to live together.
In extreme cases DIY noise can constitute a statutory nuisance which we can deal with using powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
If you are planning to carry out noisy DIY on your home, warn your neighbours well in advance. Let them know what you are planning and how long you expect the work to continue.
We recommend that you only carry out noisy work between 8:00am and 7:00pm, however, if you need to carry out noisy work outside these hours, please speak to your neighbours and come to an agreement about when the work can be carried out.
A misfiring house alarm can be especially annoying, particularly if the owner has gone on holiday. Regular checks should be carried out to ensure that your house alarm is in good working order. Ensure that a 20 minute cut-out device is installed to silence the alarm in case of a misfire.
Additionally, register nominated key-holders so that in the event of a problem, your alarm can be re-set. You should register the details of nominated key holders with the police and local authority.
We have the power to break into properties to silence an alarm where they are satisfied that it causing a noise nuisance. The cost of this action will be charged to the householder.
Drum kits & other musical instruments
There are no legally set times for practising your musical instrument, but just be sensitive to your neighbours. You may be delighted to listen to your daughter's two-hour violin recital, but your neighbours may not.
Where drums are concerned consider using fitting practice pads.
Street musicians & buskers
The pedestrianised areas of the Town Centre have become a desirable venue for street entertainers of all types. However, whilst being popular with some shoppers and passers-by, some buskers and street musicians are subject to complaints of noise nuisance from workers and residents in the vicinity.
Antisocial behaviour associated with noise
Noise nuisance is often associated with other forms of Antisocial Behaviour (ASB) such as intimidation, verbal abuse, aggressive behaviour, drunkenness and drug use which have an impact on us in our homes and affect the neighbourhoods in which we live.
Boston Borough Council's Community Safety in conjunction with the police can offer help and advice on such matters.
For further information contact The Community Safety Team on 01205 314200.