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Types of noise nuisance

These are some examples of noises that may be considered a statutory nuisance.

Air conditioning and refrigeration unit

When someone wants to put up an air conditioning unit they usually require planning permission. Planning conditions should prevent a noise nuisance. If they are not properly maintained, air conditioning units can rattle and hum. This will make more noise and vibration than normal. For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Aircraft noise

Aircraft noise can be very intrusive. The Environmental Protection Team cannot deal with this type of noise.

If you are complaining about military aircraft noise, you need to contact the Ministry of Defence. We are aware that some parts of the district are covered by local agreements. Please give as many details as possible to aid identification of the offending aircraft.

For further information:

  • Contact: Ministry of Defence Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit
  • Email: cas-lowfying@mod.uk
  • Telephone: 0845 600 7580 Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm (excluding bank holidays)
  • Address: Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit, RAF Wittering, Peterborough PE8 6H

Alarms

Alarms can protect properties against burglars. They can also cause a noise nuisance to neighbours.

You are responsible for any alarm on your property. If it accidentally sounds:

  • continuously for 20 minutes; or
  • intermittently for more than an hour; or
  • is judged to be giving reasonable cause for annoyance

you could be liable for costs incurred by us if the alarm has to be disabled.

How to prevent your alarm becoming a noise nuisance:

  1. Make sure you install a good quality alarm. It should comply with British Standard BS4737.
  2. Have the alarm serviced regularly.
  3. Fit a 20 minute cut-off device to your system. Make sure the alarm will sound for a maximum of 20 minutes. Make sure it does not re-sound.
  4. Ensure sensors cannot be triggered accidentally. Make sure windows are closed. Pets should not be left in rooms where the alarm could be triggered.

What will we do if we receive a complaint about an alarm sounding?

An Environmental Protection Officer will try to contact the owner/occupier for the premises. If this fails and the alarm continues we will try to switch it off. We will try do this without gaining access to the inside of the property. If this is not possible, we will serve a noise abatement notice. We will obtain a warrant from the magistrates to enter the property and silence the alarm. Any costs for these works and the officer's time will be invoiced to the property owner. This could amount to several hundred pounds.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Barking dogs

Dog barking can be a serious annoyance if it happens regularly, or for prolonged periods of time.

If you are the owner of a dog that constantly barks you need to take steps to prevent such barking. Failure to do so could result in legal action being taken against you.

The following guidance provides practical advice on how to stop your dog from barking: Dog Barking: Problems and Simple Solutions.

If you feel you would benefit from further advice, a visit from our Community Wardens can also be arranged.

For further information please contact the Environmental Protection Team.

If you are concerned that the dog is barking due to it suffering, or you are worried about its welfare, contact:

  • Contact: RSCPA
  • Telephone: 0300 1234 999
  • Address: RSPCA Advice Team, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
  • Website: www.rspca.org.uk

Bird scarer

We will take action if the NFU Code of Practice for the use of Bird Scarers is not complied with.

The main points of the Code of Practice are:

  • Place the scarer as far away from residential properties as possible. Align the scarers to point away from neighbours.
  • Use reflective or absorbent baffles (for example, straw bales) to concentrate the sound onto the field and away from neighbouring properties.
  • Avoid using auditory scarers within 200m (220yards) of sensitive buildings before 7am (or 6am if sunrise is earlier).
  • Take note of the prevailing wind when siting scarers.
  • Do not fire auditory scarers more than four times in any hour. Consider situations where several guns protect a single field.
  • Never use auditory scarers before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Try not to use auditory scarers on a Sunday.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Cockerels and poultry

Complaints of nuisance from cockerels crowing are on the increase. This is particularly in built up areas in close proximity to neighbours. Crowing would have to be excessive and unreasonable. It would have to significantly interfere with the use and enjoyment of someone's home. Examples are:

  • Crowing for prolonged periods.
  • Frequent and excessive crowing.
  • Crowing at unreasonable hours. That is, early morning or late at night.

Advice to prevent a noise nuisance

  • Only have a cockerel if you are breeding chickens. You do not need a cockerel in order for your chickens to lay eggs or to prevent feather plucking.
  • We recommend that chickens are not bred in residential areas.
  • Keeping more than one cockerel in an area can lead to competitive crowing, particularly in the breeding season.
  • Locate your poultry as far as practicable from neighbouring residential properties.
  • Shut birds away at dusk. Do not let them out until a reasonable hour in the morning.
  • Cockerels tend to crow from first light. Provide birds with a house where light is eliminated from entering as far as possible. Remember that ventilation will still be required.
  • Try putting a shelf in the hen house. This will allow the cockerel to walk around at normal height. It will prevent it stretching its neck to make the crowing sound.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Construction sites

Activities on construction sites are assessed by us to minimise pollution caused by noise, dust and other concerns. Some activities can cause a statutory nuisance.

Building and demolition work can be very noisy at times, the work is often necessary and for a limited time.

If you wish to complain about noise from building and demolition sites, please let us know the following:

  • Does noisy work start on site before 8am or continue after 5pm? Saturday work should only be 9am to 1pm and not at all on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
  • How long has the work been going on for?
  • What activities are causing the noise?
  • Who are the developers/which businesses are causing the noise?

These questions help us determine whether the developers are using something we call Best Practical Means. This means the method they are using for that particular task is the best available for the location of the site. There is little we can do to resolve your complaint if the developers do not have other less noisy options available.

The above times are considered generally acceptable for noise generating works. Operating outside of the above times may be agreed. It would need to be shown that the works cannot be carried out at any other time. The contractor/developer must demonstrate that any disturbance will be kept to a minimum.

Emergency services and some emergency repair works will be exempt from these operating times.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

DIY

Most people will need to undertake some form of DIY to repair or improve their home. People may not always be able to carry out DIY during the day, due to work commitments. They may need to use evenings or weekends for this.

Whilst DIY tasks often need to be done, it is important to have regard for others. Disturbance from DIY building and decorating can be minimised by:

  • Keeping noisy activities to reasonable times. Noisy activities include hammering, drilling and use of power tools.

  • Be aware that work on the party wall or floor between properties can give surprising levels of noise, for example: wall paper stripping

  • It is important to consider your neighbour's personal circumstances. Iif they have young children, their need for peace and quiet in the early evening will be greater.

  • Discuss with your neighbours what noisy jobs you need to do. Discuss how long it should take and when you intend to undertake it. Ideally you can agree 'reasonable times' between each other.

  • It you are undertaking a long term project, ensure your neighbours are given some respite from noisy activities. This should be for some weekends and evenings.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Fireworks

Fireworks Regulations 2004 has made it an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks. The regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night from 11pm to 7am in England and Wales, with extensions for the following festivals:

  • Until 1am following the first day of Chinese New Year.
  • On 5 November until 12am.
  • Until 1am on the day following Diwali day.
  • Until 1am on the day following 31 December.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Music

Amplified sound, such as:

  • music from a stereo;
  • hi-fi,
  • radio,
  • TV,
  • sound system; or
  • game station.

Whilst these may be entertainment to you, they can be a noise nuisance to your neighbours.

Here is some simple advice to reduce the likelihood of nuisance to your neighbours:

  • Keep the volume down to a level where it is unlikely to disturb neighbours. This is whether it is a TV, car stereo or home stereo, especially between late evening and early morning.

  • Keep doors and windows closed.

  • If you are playing music outside, try to keep it to a level that cannot be heard outside your own property.

  • Place speakers away from neighbours' walls, floors or ceilings. Standing them on an insulating material can reduce transmission of sound.

  • When playing amplified music, consider using headphones, either the cord type, or infra red, which give you more freedom of movement.

  • When not using headphones/earpiece to listen to amplified music, set the bass control to a low level. The 'bass beat' can be particularly irritating.

  • Be considerate when using personal entertainment, for example, toys/computer games.

  • If you are having a party, let your neighbours know beforehand. Let them know what time you intend it to finish. Consider inviting the neighbours. Keep windows and doors closed. If someone complains, turn the music down.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Musical instruments and band practice

The playing of musical instruments can be a nuisance. This depends on how often they are played, the time of day and the volume of the noise.

If you want to play your instrument, it is best to let your neighbours know. Ask them if they can hear your music. Ask them if it causes them annoyance. Try to agree specific times when they do not mind you playing your music. Talking to your neighbours may avoid complaints. Where no agreement is reached, the following guidelines should be followed. They only apply to the playing of one instrument.

Do not practice or play music:

  • For more than 45 minutes in any one day.
  • In any room with your windows or doors open.
  • After 8pm, or before 8am Monday to Friday (or before 10am on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays). Outside timescales previously agreed with your neighbours. Within 100 metres of noise sensitive premises such as schools and hospitals.

If you are unable to follow these recommendations, you should practise in another location, further from your neighbour's property. Wherever possible:

  • Do not practice or play music in any room next to your neighbour's property.
  • Use sound-proofed practice rooms.
  • Use practice pads when drumming.
  • Do not use an amplifier.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Parties

We do not wish to stop you from having parties from time to time. It is important to ensure that noisy activities do not cause a nuisance to your neighbours. We recommend the following actions:

  • Write to your neighbours that might be affected by your party. Give them the date, start and finish time. Keep a copy of this letter for your records. If you get on with your neighbours, why not invite them?

  • Do not have parties on a regular basis. This can cause nuisance to your neighbours.

  • During warmer weather, you may want a party or barbeque in your garden. Remember that noise from outdoor parties can seriously affect your neighbours. Any music played outside should be at a much lower volume. Sound travels further than when played within your property. We recommend that music is not played outside after 10.30pm. We recommend that guests are asked to come inside at 11pm. Noise from talking can sometimes cause a nuisance at night.

  • After 11pm you should check that noise from voices or music cannot be heard outside your property. Ensure your windows are kept closed if music is being played inside your property.

  • Ask guests to leave quietly. Banging doors, car doors, waiting taxis and people noise can affect your neighbours.

  • Hold parties on a Friday or Saturday night rather than during the week. Neighbours are likely to be less bothered by noise, if they do not have to get up for work the next morning.

  • We strongly advise against having discos, live bands and karaoke outside or in a marquee in your garden. They are likely to cause a noise nuisance. Do not use fireworks after 11pm.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Rail noise

We have no powers to deal with noise from the normal movement of trains. If noise from maintenance/activities on the tracks cause a problem, we may be able to help.

For further information contact the Environmental Protection Team.

Vehicles and vehicle alarms

Any noise from a vehicle, not parked on the public highway, can be dealt with by us. This includes:

  • Noise caused by the vehicle;
  • Car repairs;
  • Car radios;
  • Car alarms; and
  • Parked refrigerator vehicles.

Noise from alarms and noisy stereos from vehicles on the public highway can be dealt with by us. You will need to provide a car registration and other information.

Noise from traffic and badly maintained vehicles on the public highway are the responsibility of the police. Call 101 to contact the police.

You can help prevent noise nuisance from your vehicle alarm by:

  • Installing the alarm in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Servicing the alarm regularly.
  • Adjusting the sensitivity appropriately.
  • Ensuring that the sunroof and windows are closed when the alarm is activated.
  • Ensuring that the alarm's cut-out device limits the time that the alarm sounds and prevents it from repeatedly re-triggering
  • Ensuring the DVLA has up-to-date registered keeper information. This may enable the person responsible for the vehicle to be contacted before formal action is considered necessary.

See below:

Reporting a noise complaint

Complain about a noise problem online

or contact the Environmental Protection Team.