Types of noise

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

Some neighbour noises such as from children, raised voices, footsteps or doors being closed can't normally be dealt with. We also can't enforce or remedy complaints of noise caused by aircrafts, road traffic and trains.

We deal with a large number of noise complaints, most of which are dealt with informally.

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

Domestic noise

Noise from neighbours can be very frustrating. However, most noise problems can be resolved by talking to the person responsible, as they may not be aware that their activities are causing disturbance.

In some cases we may decide not to take further action. This may depend on a lack of substantial evidence of nuisance.

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. 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.

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, we may be able to help.

Vehicle alarms

Vehicle alarms can occasionally cause 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 can't be contacted within a reasonable period of time, we 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.

Commercial noise

Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same way as that from domestic premises.

Noise from building and demolition sites

There are no set hours during which building 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