Noise complaint

If you are concerned about the noise coming from a neighbour's home, a local business or manufacturer, alarms, barking dogs, or noise from stationary vehicles and equipment in the street, often the best way to deal with the problem is to talk to the person or company responsible for the noise and point out the problem.

If you want to make a complaint about noise, please contact our Environmental Health team using our complaint form.

The name of the person making the complaint will not be released unless their permission is given or it is required as evidence.

Once a complaint has been made, we send a letter to the person alleged to be making the noise. At the same time a confirmation letter is sent to the person who has complained, with log sheets for to start keeping a record of the noise.

Once the log sheets are returned we will decide whether to install noise monitoring equipment into the resident’s home to get more details or visit during the times given in the diary records.

If we witness the noise and are satisfied a statutory nuisance exists, we can ask the person to reduce or stop the noise.

Download the Noise diary. We recommend this is kept for two weeks.

Some neighbour noises, such as from children, raised voices, footsteps, doors being closed etc, cannot normally be dealt. We have no enforcement powers to deal with noise caused by transport undertakers, aircraft, road traffic and trains.

Where possible have a friendly word with the dog owner concerned, they may not be aware of the disturbance being caused.

We receive many complaints about alarm systems causing serious noise disturbance and where there is no evidence of a break-in.

Burglar alarms going off should be reported to the police in case there is any criminal activity. The police may have details of some keyholders. Alarm systems should have an automatic cut-off device fitted to stop the alarm sounding after 20 minutes.

When an alarm system is causing a noise disturbance, we will try to contact a keyholder so the problem can be resolved. All alarm holders are invited to give us their keyholder contact details on the following Audible Intruder Alarm - key-holder record form.

We can enter premises without force to silence an alarm where the following conditions are met:

  • If the alarm has been sounding continuously for more than 20 minutes.
  • If it has been sounding intermittently for more than 1 hour
  • If it is likely to give persons living or working in the vicinity reasonable cause for annoyance.

If we need to use force to enter premises, an application to a Justice of the Peace may be made for a warrant to enter and silence the alarm.

As long as any action was taken in good faith, we can claim back the costs from the householder or alarm holder.

If there is a misfiring car alarm causing a noise nuisance we can make reasonable attempts to find the person responsible for the vehicle. If we can’t find them we can silence the alarm and claim back any costs from the vehicle owner.

Acceptable hours for noisy work from construction and major building works involving equipment and machinery are 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. No noisy work will normally be allowed on Sundays and bank holidays.

Developers must also demonstrate they have taken all measures to keep noise to a minimum. We may allow operations outside these times if it can be shown the works cannot be carried out at any other time and that items of plant and equipment are operated and maintained, so their use causes the minimum amount of noise.

Contractors planning to undertake construction and demolition work can contact us before work starts to make us aware of any possible noise issues.

These times do not apply to general DIY works.

Taking formal action

We try to solve the problem informally, but if this fails and we are satisfied the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance we will serve an Abatement Notice on the person responsible for the noise or, in certain circumstances, the owner or occupier of the premises, or the offending vehicle, machinery or equipment. This may require the noise to be stopped or limited to certain times of the day. There is a right of appeal to a Magistrates’ Court within 21 days of it being served.

In any court proceedings the business must prove the best practicable means have been used to prevent or minimise the effect of the noise. In such circumstances there may be technical or practical reasons why we cannot take formal action.

Failing to comply with an abatement notice

If a person fails to comply, without reasonable cause, they will have committed an offence. For offences relating to domestic premises and private vehicles, the Magistrates' Court may impose a maximum fine of £5,000, with a further fine of up to £500 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction. When the nuisance arises on industrial, trade or business premises, the maximum fine is £20,000.

Councils have powers to gain entry to premises to stop a noise nuisance. We can also gain entry or access to vehicles, machinery or equipment to stop problems such as vehicle alarms when the owner or person responsible cannot be found. We can seize noise making equipment and apply for it to be disposed of.

You can complain about a noise problem direct to the Magistrates' Court. When you contact the court, tell them you wish to make a complaint under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

You will probably need to visit the court where the procedure will be explained to you and you may be asked for evidence of the problem. This will show the Magistrates you have an arguable case. You should also let the Court know if you have notified the Council.

You will need to keep a written record of the dates, times and duration of the offending noise, as well as a description of its nature and the distress it causes you.

If you decide to take action yourself, you must give three days’ notice in writing to the maker of the noise and provide them with details of your complaint. Deliver your Notice by post or hand and make sure your letter is dated and you have kept a copy.

The Court will decide if a summons can be issued and may ask you to serve it by hand or by post on the person responsible for the noise, stating the date and time for the court hearing. If you serve the Notice, you should keep a careful record and ensure the Notice is served well before the hearing date. You will have to attend Court to give evidence and the person responsible for the noise will very likely come to defend themselves.

If you are going to present your own case, the Clerk of the Court may give you advice and guidance, or you can contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau. You may have to pay the costs of taking the case to Court.

If the court decides in your favour, it will make an Order requiring the offender to abate the noise nuisance and specify the measures they will have to take. The Order may also prohibit or restrict a recurrence of the nuisance. The Court may also impose a fine.

If the Court finds the nuisance existed at the date of making the complaint, they will award you reasonable costs, which will need to be paid by the person making the noise.

If the case is dismissed, you will normally have to pay your own costs in bringing this case to court and you may have to pay the other party’s costs.

If the noise continues, any person not meeting the requirements of the Order will be found guilty of an offence under the Act and can be fined.

You should keep your record of noise occurrences up to date in case the Order is ignored and you need to go back to court.