For many people excessive noise can be a source of annoyance and stress which can interfere with everyday life, cause sleep disturbance and on occasions affect your health.
We understand how annoying noise can be and consequently we provide a range of services which can help resolve many of these noise problems.
Making a complaint about noise
What you can do
In the first instance you can politely speak to the person responsible for the noise and let them know the noise they are producing is causing you a problem. They may be unaware of the impact the noise is having on you.
For advice and guidance on how to approach people, see the neighbours section below. (This information relates to neighbour noise problems but some of the information can be applied in other circumstances.)
What we can do
We can investigate the problem and see whether the noise you are complaining about amounts to what we call a statutory nuisance. If it does we may be able to take action and get the problem resolved.
There is more information about types of noise below:
There is no simple definition of statutory nuisance. In general terms statutory nuisances are described in various Acts of Parliament, but the word "nuisance" in this legal context does not have the same meaning as in everyday language.
Our Environmental Health Officers rely on their training and experience in deciding whether a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur. Many factors need to be taken into account, and the special circumstances of each case must be carefully considered. Some issues are very important to this decision:
- a statutory nuisance needs to pose a threat to health or to have a significant effect on another person at their premises. It must therefore be more than just an annoyance or irritation.
- a statutory nuisance needs to occur for some length of time, or with some frequency. "One-off" occurrences are much less likely to be regarded as statutory nuisances.
- the judgement as to whether a statutory nuisance exists must have regard to what most people consider to be reasonable.
We are unable to take formal legal action purely on the basis of complaints received and in most circumstances it will be necessary for an officer to witness a statutory nuisance before being able to deal with it. It may also be necessary to take measurements and to carry out monitoring.
Where an officer is unable to witness a nuisance or is of the opinion that it does not amount to a statutory nuisance, an individual still has the right to make to make a complaint direct to a magistrates’ court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The Council does not have any powers to deal with noise from aircraft.
The Civil Aviation Authority gives information about many aspects of civil aircraft operation, including noise. They offer advice on making a complaint about aircraft noise, and gives contact details for airports and aerodromes.
Complaints about noise from low flying military aircraft should be made to the Ministry of Defence .
Continually ringing burglar and car alarms can be intrusive particularly if they occur during the night. We aim to deal with them as soon as possible, but in both instances we have to be satisfied the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance and serve a noise abatement notice before we can take action to silence the alarm. If the abatement notice is not complied with then we will call a contractor to disable the alarm.
If we need to gain access to premises to disable internal alarms we have to apply to the magistrates’ court to obtain a warrant to enter the premises. In this case it will take considerably longer for us to deal with the problem.
If you have an alarm installed at your premises you are recommended to notify us of any key holder details [PDF 13KB]. In the event of us receiving a complaint about your alarm we will attempt to contact the key holder to come and disable your alarm. If for any reason we are unable to contact them we may serve an abatement notice and if we have to disable the alarm you will be charged for costs associated with this work.
Noise from commercial and industrial sources can be a problem particularly if the noise occurs at night. We investigate noise from industrial plant and machinery in factories, warehouses and other commercial premises and assess the noise to see if it is a statutory nuisance. If it is we will use the powers available to deal with the noise.
We can also check to see whether there are any planning conditions relating to the particular site or whether the noise is regulated under the Environmental Permitting regime.
We also try to minimise the impact of noise from new commercial and industrial development by assessing proposals at the planning stage by speaking to developers and recommending planning conditions.
Noise from such activities is often of limited duration. Our approach is to attempt to minimise the impact of excessive noise by a combination of ensuring the quietest techniques are used and also by restricting hours if necessary.
We generally regard normal working hours as 7 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday, and 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday. During these times we accept that noise from activities will be audible on and beyond the site boundary. There will be circumstances where work outside these times is necessary, for example where essential maintenance work may be required on motorways or railway lines.
In situations where work outside normal working hours is proposed we encourage contractors to notify local residents in advance.
Noise from pubs, clubs, restaurants and places of entertainment can sometimes disturb people living in close proximity. Sources include:
- noise from amplified music
- externally mounted plant and equipment e.g. refrigeration plant, air conditioning units
- outdoor areas used by customers e.g. balconies, smoking areas
- deliveries and taxis.
Complaints will be dealt with using the statutory nuisance powers.
- In the cases of licensed premises consideration will be given to any breaches of licensing conditions.
- We also work with organisers of leisure and sporting activities, such as clay pigeon shooting and motorbike scrambling, to try to minimise the problems they can sometimes cause to local residents.
We can only deal with noise from fireworks if they are being set off from a property on a very regular basis and are likely to be a statutory nuisance.
The Firework Regulations 2004 prohibit anyone under 18 from possessing fireworks, and anyone except professionals from possessing display fireworks. These regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night (11 pm – 7 am) in England and Wales, with extensions for the following festivals:
- first day of Chinese New Year until 1 am the following day
- on the day of Diwali until 1 am the following day
- on New Year's Eve until 1 am on New Year's Day
- on 5th November until midnight.
These regulations are enforced by the police. There is a penalty of up to £5,000 or 6 months in prison for breach of the curfew.
Noise from neighbours is a common source of disturbance and it can be very irritating and distressing. It can arise as a result of loud music/television, shouting and banging, barking dogs and DIY activities.
What you can do
Sometimes neighbour noise problems can be resolved by having a polite word with or writing to your neighbour. They may be completely unaware they are causing a problem, or not realise how their noise is affecting you. There are some useful documents below:
What we can do
If you are reluctant to speak to your neighbour or you have already done so and the noise problem has not been resolved you can make a complaint to us. We have a duty to investigate noise complaints. If we decide a noise amounts to a statutory nuisance we will serve an abatement notice on the person responsible, requiring them to stop causing the nuisance and if they do not comply they may be guilty of an offence. Fines of up to £5,000 can be imposed for offences in residential premises and £20,000 in commercial premises.
A person served with an abatement notice has a right of appeal to the magistrates’ court within 21 days of service of the notice.
We are unlikely to be able to take any action in relation to:
- a one off party
- neighbours arguing or general talking
- children playing out in the street
- occasional barking dog.
How we investigate a complaint
Our normal response to neighbour noise complaints is, in first instance, to send a letter to the person who is making the noise outlining the details of the complaint and requiring them to moderate the noise. Often this first approach can resolve the problem but if it continues we ask you to keep a noise diary of any further incidents on log sheets provided by us.
If you submit your completed noise diary we will assess the log and if we consider there is a justified complaint we will visit the person allegedly causing the noise. The purpose of the visit will be to outline the details of the complaint, require them to moderate the noise and explain to them what further action we may take.
If the noise persists we will attempt to monitor the noise to determine whether it amounts to a statutory nuisance by undertaking a maximum of 3 visits to your home or by installing noise monitoring equipment.
If we witness the noise and decide it is a statutory nuisance then we will serve a noise abatement notice on the person responsible.
If a person fails to comply with a noise abatement notice then we can consider seizing and confiscating any audio equipment and prosecuting offenders in the magistrates’ court.
Taking your own private action
Sometimes it may be not be possible for us to take any formal action with regard to your noise problem. This may be due to us not being able to witness the noise or we may feel the noise only occurs occasionally and does not amount to a statutory nuisance. The law recognises this and allows you to make a complaint direct to the magistrates’ court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. You can do this by either making the complaint yourself using the information contained in our leaflet - Advice about taking private action [PDF 82KB] - or by using a solicitor.
- Advice about keeping noise to a reasonable level [PDF 57KB]
- FAQ- I have made a complaint about noise [PDF 102KB]
- FAQ- Someone has complained about my noise [PDF 71KB]
- Is your dog barking too much?
The Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 makes noise in the street a statutory nuisance so we can deal with a variety of noise sources namely:
- car alarms
- car radios/stereos
- ice cream chimes
- vehicle repairs
- parked refrigeration vehicles.
Traffic noise, noise made by military forces, or from campaigning demonstrations is excluded.
Noise from road traffic such as noise from exhausts is dealt with under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1968. These regulations are enforced by the Police.
- Loudspeakers – we have powers under section 62 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to deal with loudspeakers in the street.
- you cannot use loudspeakers (including chimes) in the street for advertising entertainments, trades or business.
- loudspeakers for other uses are restricted to the hours between 8 am and 9 pm
- we can licence use outside of these hours but not for advertising purposes or electioneering
- vehicles selling perishable foods may use loudspeakers between 12 noon and 7 pm and these times can be varied with local authority consent.
A number of essential services are exempt from the general rules governing the use of loudspeakers in the street, including the police, ambulance and fire services.
Those found guilty of using a loudspeaker illegally in the street are liable to a maximum fine of £5,000 for the first or subsequent offence. The Council is not required to serve an abatement notice and offenders can be automatically subject to prosecution.
Issues relating to noise at work are dealt with by whichever regulatory body is the enforcing authority for your particular work activity.
Calderdale Council's Environmental Health Officers enforce the health and safety at work legislation in retailers, wholesalers, offices, catering premises, leisure services and consumer services
The Health and Safety Executive carry out a similar service in manufacturing, health, construction, agriculture and education sectors and where work is carried out in domestic premises.
Information about noise in the working environment can be found from the Health and Safety Executive: Noise at work