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Making a noise complaint

Is noise bothering you?

If noise from your neighbours is making life difficult for you, your first step should be to consider whether you could discuss it with them informally. They may not realise they are causing a nuisance and may offer to make changes to reduce their noise.

If that approach does not work, or if you don't feel you can talk to your neighbours about the noise, the environmental health department may be able to help.

Reporting your complaint

If you get in touch with the council to report your complaint, this is what will happen:

We will record:

  • your name, address and contact number;
  • the address you are complaining about;
  • the nature of your complaint.

1.These details are essential for us to investigate the case. We do not take complaints from anonymous callers because we need to keep in touch about progress. We need the correct address for the offender so if you are not sure of the address have a look before you call.

2. A council officer will discuss the problems with you and explain what is involved in following up your complaint. They may be able to help you to resolve the matter informally, bearing in mind that once the council is involved it may be difficult to rebuild neighbourly relations.

3.If you choose to proceed with a formal complaint, we will write to you to confirm we have received your complaint and the details you have given us. You will receive this within 4-5 days. We will enclose a diary sheet so that you can keep a record of times the noise starts and finishes, the type of noise and how it affects your normal activities. For example, did it wake you up at night or prevent you from hearing your TV?

4. The neighbour you are complaining about also receives a letter to give them details of the complaint made against them. This letter will not say who has complained, although of course this may be obvious from the type of complaint. Your neighbour will be told that; they will be monitored; they are being given an opportunity to modify their behaviour or at least to respond to the claim

5. You will need to keep the diary sheet for two or three weeks or so, recording the instances of noise. The time covered by your diary will depend on the type of noise which is bothering you and how often it occurs.

6. The diary sheets allow the investigating officer to arrange appropriate monitoring, decide on whether the noise is a nuisance and collect evidence where necessary. The officer will take an impartial view about the noise and may not agree that it is a nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act, the main law which covers noise nuisance. (Some noise, such as noise from building sites, is dealt with under different legislation.)

7. The next stage is for the officer to hear the noise for themselves and decide whether it is a statutory nuisance. Usually three monitoring visits are arranged. The officer does not necessarily need to be there. It may be possible to use special recording equipment.

8. Should a statutory nuisance exist, a Noise Abatement Notice will be served. This requires the offender to stop the noise. Should the noise continue after service of the notice, the offender will be in breech of the notice and may be called to the Magistrates' Court.

9. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 provided an amendment that allowed councils to issue a "minded to" notice which notifies the person responsible that a statutory nuisance exists and gives them 7 days to abate nuisance. If action is not taken, no further warning will be given before an abatement notice is served.

10. The complainant's name will be revealed in court and they may need to give evidence.

A step by step approach

This process does not give you a quick answer. Your neighbour may stop creating a noise after receiving the first letter about the complaint or they may continue until formal action is taken. Evidence may have to be presented in the Magistrates Court and it is important that at each stage it is collected in the correct way.

To complain about excessive noise

Report a noise complaint

If you wish to speak to someone regarding a noise complaint out of office hours, please contact our Out of Hours Emergency number.

If you need a noise consultant (for example to assist with a planning application) please follow this link to the website for Association of Noise Consultants. On the site there is a list of members, locations and relevant contact details.

Noise Enforcement Policy

The purpose of enforcement is to:

  • ensure that businesses and individuals take action to deal immediately with serious noise problems affecting their neighbours;
  • promote and achieve sustained compliance with the law;
  • ensure that businesses and individuals who cause a noise nuisance abate that nuisance, which may include bringing alleged offenders before the courts.

The Environmental Services Enforcement Policies help officers to decide what action to take when faced with breaches of legislation. The options range from sending informal letters to the offenders to prosecuting them.

More information

  1. Making a noise complaint (you are here)
  2. Dogs barking