If you feel that you are suffering from unnecessary or unreasonable levels of noise, there are ways in which you can act. Firstly, it may be helpful to speak to the person responsible for the nuisance. People often do not know that they are causing a problem and this approach may help to solve the problem on a more friendly level. See our guide on how to approach your neighbours about noise.
If you feel you can’t do this, or your friendly approach doesn’t work, the Environmental Protection team will investigate the matter on your behalf. Generally, this will involve the following steps:
Details of the complaint will be taken.
Make sure you know the source of the noise as we need to write to them. Whilst we don’t need the names of the individuals causing the noise, we cannot investigate anonymous noise complaints – we will need the details of the person being affected, and how they’re being affected, to prove that the noise is unduly causing a nuisance.
We will not release names or details about who has made the complaint.
You will be asked about the noise. When is it happening? How long does it go on for? Is the noise happening at a particularly bad time or place? While the complaint may not be able to completely stop the noise, there may be a compromise that appeals to both sides.
We will send out diary sheets for you to make a record of the noise. Please see the guidance on completing these. More sheets can be downloaded if required. This record helps the Council decide if the issue is likely to be considered a statutory nuisance and may also be used as evidence in Court at a later date. We also use the information provided to plan the next step of the investigation. If you are unable to keep these diaries, let us know and we will assist you in recording the information in another way.
Once we have received your diary sheets and reviewed the evidence, we will write to the subject of the noise complaint to let them know that we have received a complaint. We will ask them to take whatever action they think is appropriate so that we don’t get any further complaints. The subject often contacts us when they receive this letter, and the more information we can provide them the better. We don’t tell them who made the complaint. We will aim to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
A noise diary is vital for us to progress the investigation. If you do not return the diary, no further action will be taken on your complaint.
We then need to substantiate what is in the diary. This is so when we take formal action we can justify it, if necessary, in court because we have witnessed it for ourselves.
- We will review the information provided – if no Statutory Nuisance action is available we will advise you of this and other options available.
- If the forms show a pattern to the disturbance we may arrange to visit at times when the disturbance is likely to be happening.
What happens if the problem is considered a statutory nuisance?
If the investigating officer believes that there is sufficient evidence of statutory nuisance, and the matter cannot be resolved informally, immediately and completely, the persons responsible for the noise will be served with an Abatement Notice under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
If the person being complained about does not agree with the Notice and appeals or does not comply with the requirements of the Notice, the complainant and other witnesses may be required to give evidence in Court.
Should the offender(s) persist in contravening the Abatement Notice, the council may be entitled to execute work ‘in default’ and require the offender to pay all costs to do this. This is basically the Local Authority taking steps themselves to stop the nuisance. This might include applying to the magistrates court for a warrant to enter the offender’s premises in order to seize any equipment likely to be the cause of the noise nuisance. Seized equipment is kept securely by the council until the magistrates court decides whether it is to be permanently confiscated. The offender has to pay a fee to have the items returned.
The council can also prosecute the offender for contravening the requirements of the Abatement Notice. These cases are usually heard in the magistrates court. If the offender is found guilty then a fine of up to £5,000 per offence may be imposed by the court (£20,000 in the case of a trade or businesses, or on indictment an unlimited fine or even imprisonment).
In some cases the council will do both.
If the offender is a tenant the Abatement Notice will also be raised with the landlord, and separate action may be taken for breach of tenancy. The Environmental Health Team work closely with the Tenancy Services Team at NKDC. Persistent noise may ultimately lead to someone’s eviction from their home.