Our noise toolkit is designed to empower you to take action over the noise nuisance you are experiencing. Noise nuisances can happen at all times of the day and night.
It is not always possible for an Environmental Health Officer to witness the nuisance themselves.
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.
What you can do when the noise is happening
What you can do afterwards
Alternative actions you may consider
Find the address
In order for us to investigate, you must identify where the noise is coming from. Sometimes this may not be obvious in a block of flats for example, so you may need to investigate further.
Please note we are unable to deal with noise from road traffic.
Approach your neighbour
Sometimes neighbour noise problems can be resolved by having a polite word with your neighbour.
You may wish to follow these steps:
1. Assess the situation. Before you do anything, take a few minutes to collect your thoughts:
- What is the noise and how bad is it?
- Is the noise a one-time or occasional problem, or is it frequent?
- How is the noise affecting you?
- How would you like the problem resolved? What specific actions do you want taken?
2. Talk to your neighbour. Your neighbour may be unaware they are causing a problem.
- Be courteous and polite. Explain the situation factually.
- Mention specifically what outcome or result you would like.
- Suggest an alternative or compromise. Could they use headphones? Could they keep it down after or before certain times of day?
- Keep your safety in mind. If you are at all concerned about your safety or you do not know your neighbours, take a friend or neighbour along. Walk away if you feel at all threatened.
3. Take notes. Record the outcome of the conversation with as many facts and details as you can recall. Careful notes of your actions can help your case if the problem becomes an ongoing one or you need to make a formal complaint later.
Pre-investigation log sheets
The pre-investigation log sheets found below can be used in the pre-investigation stage to determine the severity of the noise you are experiencing and whether a formal investigation is appropriate.
They are also an important part in the evidence gathering process, aiding the officer to assess whether the problem is a statutory nuisance.
The log sheets can be downloaded and printed off, or you can save and complete an electronic copy.
Noise Diary Sheet (PDF) [216KB]
If you feel you would like to make a formal complaint, then you can email or post the form to the Environmental Health Team. An officer will then contact you within 2 working days.
Write to your neighbour
If you are reluctant to speak to your neighbour, you may want to consider writing politely to your neighbour.
A sample letter that you can adapt for your own use can be downloaded below.
Sample letter to neighbour (Noise) (Word doc) [24KB]
Contact your Housing Association
If you and/or the person responsible for the noise are tenants of a housing association, please report it to them in the first instance.
Often they have dedicated teams able to investigate and deal with noise problems. They can also liaise with the Environmental Protection Team.
Contact the council
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.
Please contact us on 01799 510510, 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm Friday
If the noise is happening out of office hours, then please contact us the next working day on 01799 510510 in order to speak to an Environmental Health Officer about your concerns.
Initial Noise Report (PDF) [323KB]
When making a complaint you must include:
- Your name, address, and if possible contact telephone number(s) and your email
- The address you are complaining about and the type of nuisance (e.g. loud music, a barking dog, an extractor fan etc.)
- When and for how long the nuisance normally occurs
- The way the nuisance affects you e.g. prevents sleep
Anonymous complaints will not be investigated.
How we investigate a complaint
The Environmental Protection Team has a duty to investigate and take action where a complaint of noise disturbance amounts to a Statutory Nuisance. While the term "Statutory Nuisance" is not precisely defined in law, it generally means that the noise must unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of property, as assessed by a reasonable person.
When assessing if an alleged nuisance is a Statutory Nuisance, an Environmental Health Officer will make an assessment based on these points.
- The time(s) at which it happens
- How often it happens
- How long it lasts
- The volume or intensity of the alleged nuisance
- The location and Characteristics of the area where the alleged nuisance takes place
Our normal response to a noise complaint is, in the first instance, to send a letter to the person who you believe to be making the noise, with the aim of resolving the matter informally. The letter to the alleged person(s) responsible, does not state who has made the complaint. If the matter persists, we will also ask you to complete a noise diary, of any further incidents on log sheets that are provided.
If you submit your completed noise diary, we will assess the log, and if we consider there is a justified complaint, we may install noise monitoring equipment or make a visit to determine whether the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance.
If we witness the noise and decide it is a statutory nuisance, then we will serve a noise abatement notice on the person responsible, requiring abatement of the nuisance.
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.
Mediation is when an impartial person - trained in dealing with difficult discussions between 2 opposing sides - acts like a referee in a dispute. See the below link to find out more information about this service in our area.
Sometimes it may be not be possible for us to take any formal action with regard to your nuisance problem.
This may be due to us not being able to witness the nuisance or that it only occurs occasionally and does not amount to a statutory nuisance.
The law recognises this and allows you to either:
1. Make a complaint direct to the Magistrates' Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Make sure any letter is dated and signed and ensure you keep an accurate copy for your records.
2. Take action in your local County Court for a 'private nuisance'. This is a method which is best adopted after consulting a Solicitor and relies on you proving on the balance of probabilities that your right to reasonable enjoyment of your property has seriously been affected.
Prior to taking any independent court action you are advised to consult a Solicitor