Noise Complaint Investigation

Noise which causes complaint can include that from commercial or industrial premises; noise from neighbours; or noise from activities such as motor sports or other recreational sources. This can result in Statutory Nuisance Action by the Council resulting in a Noise Abatement Notice.

Noise Complaint Investigation

Maybe you have received a noise complaint, either directly or via the relevant Council department. Or maybe you are thinking of making a complaint yourself, or you have contacted the Council already and are wondering what else you can do to improve things. We can assist in either case.

Who can I complain to about noise?

Where people are concerned about noise, their first 'port of call' is usually the Council's Environmental Health Department, or equivalent. After an initial discussion with the complainant, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will normally provide ‘log sheets’ for the complainant to fill in, to provide information on the magnitude, duration and times of noise disturbance. The EHO may then visit the complainant’s house, either to do measurements or to carry out a subjective assessment, or both. They may talk about standards called BS4142 (noise from industrial and commercial premises) and BS8233 (sound insulation and noise reduction) or the World Health Organisation guidance on sleep disturbance. There is also published guidance on motorsport noise, clay target shooting and other noisy activity.

What happens next?

The EHO will decide whether the noise constitutes a 'Statutory Nuisance’ as defined in Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act. If so, they may either issue a ‘Noise Abatement Notice’ or, alternatively they may discuss their findings with whoever is making the noise prior to issuing a formal notice. For more information, please view our recent article on Noise Abatement and Noise Nuisance.

What do we do?

In some cases it may be necessary for the complainant, or the Environmental Health Department, to commission an acoustics consultant, such as ourselves, to carry out their own measurements and a separate noise assessment. Whoever is responsible for the noise may also want to commission their own noise assessment, to assist with a possible challenge to the finding of statutory nuisance and issue of abatement notice, or to assist them with abating the noise.

We can carry out measurements internally and/or externally, and with audio recording as necessary, to assist with the determination of whether the noise or activity which is being complained about constitutes a Statutory Nuisance, or to evaluate options for mitigation of the noise and/or nuisance to avoid expensive legal proceedings. We can also help with recommendations as to law firms who you may also need to consult.

What happens if the Council do not find a Statutory Nuisance?

In cases where the Council considers that such a nuisance does not exist, a complainant may decide to take legal action themselves, usually with the aid of a solicitor, against the producer of the noise, and independently of the Council. This is referred to as a Section 82 action, as defined in the Environmental Protection Act. Another option is to take action under Common Law Nuisance but this is more legally complex and rarely done. Both of these are also discussed in our recent article on this subject. Anyone taking legal action themselves under either regime is strongly advised to seek legal advice. We are, of course, able to give preliminary recommendations including as to law firms who can advise you on this.

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