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Medway Council has a number of powers to deal with noise.
The main legislation is that relating to statutory nuisance in Part
III of the Environmental
Protection Act 1990.
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.
Please 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
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
Choose from the following links to find out more:
What noise the council has a
duty to inspect - Making a
noise complaint - How the council investigates
complaints - Medway Mediation -
Domestic noise - Noise diary
sheets - Noise from barking dogs -
Commercial noise -
Air handling units -
The council has a duty to inspect its area to detect whether a
statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur or recur. This
usually involves an initial investigation following any complaint
of statutory nuisance from a local resident.
Statutory nuisances are mainly defined as something which
seriously disturbs the comfort and enjoyment of a person's property
- noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health
or a nuisance;
- smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health
or a nuisance;
- fumes or gases emitted from premises (private dwellings only)
so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
- any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial,
trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a
- any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a
- any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial
to health or a nuisance.
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:
77a High Street
Kent ME4 4EE
Phone: 01634 832285
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 and advice please use the contact
details at the foot of this page or use these advice notes (pdf 20KB). To use
this and the other pdf files on this page, you will need Adobe
Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it on your computer, please use
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. More information is available from
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Once the council has received a complaint of alleged statutory
nuisance, it will normally contact the person concerned informing
them that a complaint has been received and that the council will
investigate the matter. It will consider a number of factors
- diary records submitted by the complainant;
- whether reasonable steps been taken to prevent the
It is often difficult for council officers to witness the
problem, especially if it is of an intermittent nature. It is
therefore important that diary sheets (pdf
22KB) are completed.
This provides further evidence, should it be required and also
allows one of the council's environmental health officers to visit
at an appropriate time to witness the problem.
Should the officer decide that a statutory nuisance exists or is
likely to recur, he or she will usually attempt to resolve the
matter through informal discussions with the person concerned. If
it fails, a formal abatement notice can be served on the person
responsible for the nuisance. The notice will require them to stop
or restrict the nuisance and may specify any work necessary to
If a notice is served, the recipient can appeal to the
Magistrates' Court. It is at this stage that you may be required to
give evidence in court and your details may be given to any
solicitor acting for the person you are complaining about. Should
this happen, the council will give you as much advice and support
as it can.
If the recipient of the notice fails to comply without a good
reason, they are committing an offence and may be prosecuted. The
council will need to witness the nuisance again and you may be
required to give evidence in a magistrates' court.
The council also has powers to gain entry to premises, vehicles,
machinery or equipment to abate a noise nuisance and has powers to
seize noise-making equipment and can apply for it to be disposed
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. Guidance is also available from
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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
- servicing the alarm regularly;
- adjusting the sensitivity appropriately;
- ensuring that the sunroof and windows are closed when the alarm
- ensuring that, where possible, the alarm’s cut-out device
limits the time the alarm sounds and prevents it
- ensuring the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has
up-to-date registered keeper information
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 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
- hours of operation;
- plant and equipment used;
- methods of work and noise limits may then be placed on the
demolition or construction activity.
Reporting noise pollution
To report a noise pollution problem to Medway Council, please
use one of these two online forms:
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