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.