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Neighbourhood noise problems

NSCA, the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection, has several pages dealing with neighbourhood noise pollution on its site. The following is a précis of the main points taken from that site with links to the relevant sections.

NSCA lists the main problems as being barking dogs, loud music or TV, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities. The group then splits the problem into three categories.

  • unreasonably behaviour
  • inadequate sound insulation
  • sounds that are enjoyable to some but annoying to others
NSCA sets out what you can do if you are being disturbed by noise from a neighbour. The group suggests you approach the neighbour, keep a log, approach the council, seek mediation or take legal action.

If approaching your neighbour, NSCA recommends the following

  • explain politely that you are being troubled by noise
  • keep a diary with dates and times
  • write to the neighbour explaining the problem asking them to stop
  • keep a record of any conversations you have or letters you write
NSCA says that noise disputes are often resolved informally. Legal action should be a last resort.

Action By the Council

NSCA also sets out what you should do if the problem persists and what action the local council can take. NSCA says you should contact your local Environmental Health Department for advice. Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 says they must take "all reasonable steps" to investigate your complaint.

According to NSCA this could include writing to the person causing the nuisance asking them to take steps to reduce noise. An officer might visit to see whether the noise constitutes a statutory nuisance. If it does, a notice could be issued requiring the neighbour to stop. If the neighbour fails to comply, they could be guilty of an offence and the local authority can prosecute.

NSCA says Environmental Health Officers are the recognised experts. The group says that if the EHO considers that a nuisance is being caused, a Magistrate will normally accept their view. Local authorities take noise problems very seriously and will do their best to help. However, if you feel that the Council is not fulfilling its legal obligations, you can, as a last resort, complain to the local authority ombudsman.

NSCA also covers the issue of night-time noise offences. These are covered under the Noise Act 1996. Local authorities must take reasonable steps to investigate complaints about noise emitted from a dwelling, including gardens, between 11 pm and 7 am. If an officer is satisfied that the noise exceeds or may exceed the permitted level, a warning notice may be served on the person responsible.

Taking Your Own Action

NSCA says you can take independent action by complaining to the Magistrates' Court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The group says you do not need to employ a solicitor but is advisable to obtain some legal advice. However NSCA says legal action should be a last resort and suggest that it might be worth approaching the mediation service, Mediation UK, before doing so.

Mediation UK
Alexander House
Telephone Avenue
Tel: (0117) 904 6661
Fax: (0117) 904 3331

You can discuss this issue and other local issues in the new Forum.

A reminder: This site does not support so-called 'name and shame' campaigns, referred to in a recent post on this subject. Any posts in the forum which identify individuals, by name or inference, will be edited or removed and the author will be sent a warning note informing them that they have broken the forum agreement, which everyone signed up to when they registered for the Brookmans Park Newsletter Forum. If they do it again, they will be removed and banned from the forum. This is to protect against possible defamation.

May 23, 2002

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