What to do if you have a noise problem near your home or at work, which you can't sort out yourself.
If you're having a problem with noise like loud music, noisy pubs, rowdy parties or barking dogs in your neighbourhood, we may be able to help you.
Noise, defined as prolonged exposure to high levels of sound, can impact on physical wellbeing and may cause noise related hearing loss or Tinnitus. Noise, defined as an unwanted sound, may also affect mental wellbeing.
We can investigate complaints about unwanted noise which may be a 'statutory nuisance' covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This may be noise from premises or from vehicles, equipment or machinery in the street.
In general for the noise to count as a statutory nuisance it must:
- unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
- injure health or be likely to injure health
Find out more about statutory nuisances and how councils deal with complaints on GOV.UK.
If we decide someone is causing a statutory noise nuisance we can issue a 'noise abatement' order. This tells the person what they must do to stop making a noise nuisance or else face further legal action.
Our noise toolkit has been put together to help you to take action over the noise nuisance you are experiencing.
By using the toolkit, you may be able to resolve the problem yourself without taking formal action. It is also a vital aid in gathering evidence, a necessity for officers to fully understand your case, and to help your case progress.
Types of noise
Check what you can do about different types of noise.
Persistent barking dogs, can cause a statutory nuisance if they cause significant and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of your home.
If you're concerned about a dog barking excessively near you, there are things you can do:
- speak to the owner
- if speaking to your neighbour hasn't worked or isn't an option, try contacting us about the noise complaint
- if there is a welfare complaint we may contact the RSPCA
Building site construction
Building site construction can cause a statutory nuisance if works are conducted at anti-social times of the day. Hours can be restricted using the Control of Pollution Act 1974, s.60
Aircraft noise is not covered by noise nuisance legislation. However, Stansted Airport has a team that investigates aircraft noise complaints.
Or, you can raise a complaint at through the Stansted Airport investigating aircraft noise service on the London Stansted Airport site.
Noisy vehicle exhausts
It is illegal to modify a vehicle exhaust system to make a vehicle noisier after it has been 'type approved' (checked it meets environmental and safety standards).
The police can also take action if your vehicle's silencer doesn't work in the way it was designed or if you're driving in a way that creates too much noise. The relevant law is the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, section 54(2), which states "Every exhaust system and silencer shall be maintained in good and efficient working order and shall not be altered so as to increase the noise made by the escape of exhaust gases".
Broken drain covers
Broken drain covers are the responsibility of either water companies or utility companies and are not covered by nuisance legislation.
You can contact:
- Essex County Council Highways
- Essex & Suffolk Water
- UK Power Networks
- Anglian Water
- Thames Water
- Virgin Media
Industrial extraction fans
Commercial extraction fans can constitute a statutory nuisance if the noise is significant and unreasonable causing interference with the use and enjoyment of your home.
Auditory bird scarers could cause a statutory nuisance if farmers do not work within the guidelines set by the NFU Code of Practice.
Noise from children playing
Noise from children playing cannot be a statutory nuisance.
Amplified music can cause a statutory nuisance if they cause significant and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of your home.
If a neighbour is carrying out DIY on their premises for a few weeks or a short duration of time this would not be deemed as a statutory nuisance. However, if the works are undertaken at anti-social hours or for long periods of time, this could be investigated.
General household noise (such as footsteps/talking or the TV) that can be heard from a neighbouring property due to substandard sound insulation would not be a statutory nuisance.
Car maintenance. If car maintenance takes place at a residential property on a frequent basis causing a noise nuisance, this can be investigated.
Many neighbour disputes are resolved without any formal action taking place, by talking to your neighbour directly or through participating in mediation.
There is information on using a mediation service on GOV.UK.
Find out about noise and neighbour disputes on GOV.UK.
We cannot take any action against people snoring!
Noise from public houses
Noise from Public Houses can constitute a statutory nuisance. Licensed premises have permitted activities and strict conditions which must be adhered to.
Breaches in licensed activities could result in a review hearing.
Intruder alarms, particularly when the homeowners are away, can be a particular source of nuisance for people living nearby and often lead to complaints.
We have special powers to access a house after an alarm has been sounding for a period of time. By registering your alarm with the council you will be helping avoid any damage being caused to your property should this situation arise.