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Noise

Noise is defined as unwanted sound and it can originate from a number of sources, such as amplified music, barking dogs, machinery, construction and DIY activity, alarms and transport.

Note that some neighbour noises, such as from children, raised voices, footsteps or doors being closed, cannot normally be dealt with under the Act. Also, the council has no enforcement powers to remedy complaints of noise caused by aircraft, road traffic and trains.

The Environmental Protection team deals with a very large number of noise complaints, the vast majority of which are dealt with informally.

Should this not be possible, the council can take formal action. There is no set level of noise which is too loud or that will automatically result in action being taken by the council. There is also no set time when music or any other sort of noisy activity must end.

 

 

Find out more:

Medway Mediation - Domestic noise - Noise from barking dogs - Commercial noise - Air handling units - Construction and demolition

Domestic noise

Noise from neighbours can be very irritating, annoying or at worse, very disturbing. The majority of noise problems can be resolved by talking to the person responsible, as they may not be aware that their activities are causing disturbance.

Usually this action can help to resolve the matter amicably, without the need for the council to become involved. If talking to your neighbours does not help to resolve the issue or if you would prefer to discuss your concerns with someone beforehand, Medway Mediation may be able to help.

Medway Mediation is a free, independent service that makes use of trained mediators to talk to you to find a solution to the problem. The local mediation service is:

 

Medway Mediation

Lingley House

Commissioners Road

Strood

ME2 4EE

Phone: 01634 730 833
Email: mediationsue@btopenworld.com

 

In some cases, Environmental Protection may decide not to take further action. This may depend on the number of complaints received or lack of substantial evidence of nuisance.

In such cases, you may wish to take your own private legal action by complaining directly to the magistrates court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The procedure is fairly simple and need not cost much.

For further information use these advice notes (pdf 20KB).

You do not need to employ a solicitor but it may help to get some legal advice. Free legal advice is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau. You should remember that if you decide to take your own action the council will not become involved in your case and cannot be held responsible for the outcome.

Many local authority noise teams have reported an increase in neighbour complaints and disputes arising from stripped-board, laminate and wood block floors.

Noise from barking dogs

The constant barking or whining of a dog can also irritate and disturb neighbours. Many owners do not realise that the problem is occurring, as it usually only occurs when the dog owner has left the dog alone in the property.

Like neighbourhood noise problems, disturbance from a barking dog can usually be resolved by talking to the person responsible, as they may not be aware of the situation. If talking to your neighbours does not help to resolve the issue, Environmental Protection may be able to help.

Vehicle alarms

Car alarms can occasionally give rise to serious noise nuisance due to faulty setting or false alarms. If an alarm sounds continuously or intermittently to such an extent that a statutory noise nuisance is caused and the keeper cannot be contacted within a reasonable period of time, Environmental Protection may have no option but to take formal action. This action can include the service of a noise abatement notice and the silencing of the alarm or removal of the vehicle at the owner’s expense.

How to avoid noise nuisance from a vehicle alarm

Noise nuisance from vehicle alarm can be prevented by:

  • installing the alarm fully in accordance with 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, where possible, the alarm’s cut-out device limits the time the alarm sounds and prevents it from re-triggering
  • ensuring the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has up-to-date registered keeper information

Commercial noise

Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same way as that from domestic premises but the council may not need to prove a statutory nuisance where the premises is covered by a premises licence. These licences are issued to ensure that any disturbance caused to the general public is kept to a minimum. Action can be taken against premises that operate outside the conditions of the licence .

Air handling units

Poorly installed or maintained air handling units or ventilation systems can be noisy or can create fume and odour problems. Often simple maintenance by an engineer can improve the situation. The Environmental Protection team can give advice on the design, installation and position of these systems to prevent odour and noise nuisance.

Noise from construction and demolition sites

There are no set hours during which construction or demolition work can take place but it is normally expected that noisy activities will not be undertaken at night, Sundays or bank holidays. Work on construction sites often starts at 7am on weekdays. Noise levels should be minimised as far as possible, and plant should be fitted with silencing devices wherever practicable. In some cases, developers or contractors may seek "prior approval" under the Control of Pollution Act 1974  for noise emissions. Conditions such as:

  • hours of operation
  • plant and equipment used
  • methods of work and noise limits may then be placed on the demolition or construction activity

Report a problem with noise