NoiseWhat is the difference between Sound and Noise?Sound
is what we hear in our everyday environment, birds singing, spoken communication and even listening to music.Noise
is sound that is either unwanted or unpleasant and causes disturbance and annoyance. The level of disturbance will depend on type of sound and personal attitudes towards it. Sound does not need to be loud to annoy us, and a higher volume of noise will be tolerated more during the day than at night.
There are no legal noise levels at which noise will cause nuisance. Noise nuisance is assessed as much by the reaction of an average reasonable person as by any technical equipment. Sometimes noise measurements may be made to support the assessment of a nuisance.
A statutory noise nuisance is defined as "a breach of quiet enjoyment of your property". To be classed as a nuisance, the problem must interfere with whatever you are doing, and not simply be an annoyance. The disturbances must be regular frequent, excessive and unreasonable. For example, it would be annoying if your neighbours played rock music when you are a jazz fan. It would become a nuisance if they played music so loudly that you could not hear your television.How to avoid causing nuisance
What action can be taken against domestic noise?
- Keep volume level of TV, music systems and radios etc, as low as reasonable especially at night.
- If possible position speaker away from party walls and do not place directly on to the floor. Try using speaker stands or absorbing rubber mats and reduce bass levels.
- If you are going to have a party that will go on until late at night, speak to your neighbours and let them know how long it will go on and tell them they can come to you if the noise is getting too much.
- Tell your neighbours if you are about to undertake any DIY works, and try and avoid doing noisy DIY activities after about 8pm at night and on Sundays.
If you feel noise or other nuisance bothers you, you should first try to talk to the person responsible and explain the problem directly to them. You may find that you can resolve the problem amicably. If this does not resolve the matter and the disturbances continue, you may want to consider mediation.
When informal action is not possible or fails, you should complain to your Local Authority and they will investigate your complaint.
Once you make a formal complaint, you will be asked to complete diary log sheets, which should provide accurate details of
- A description of the noise and how it affects you in your home or garden.
- The dates the noise disturbs you.
- The times the noise starts and then stops.
- The diary sheets should then be returned to us for analysis, and based on this evidence appropriate action will be taken. This may involve visits to your property to witness the disturbances you are experiencing.
If you wish to register a formal complaint, you can either complete the nuisance complaint online form
, or contact Environmental Health below.
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If a statutory noise nuisance is proved, witnessed and substantiated, an abatement notice will be served. This is enforced through the Magistrates Court. If the notice is not complied with and the problem continues, a fine of up to £5000 can be imposed.
Further fines can be made for subsequent offences. In cases where the requirements of an abatement notice are not complied with, an application may be made to the Magistrates Court for a warrant to enter premises. In this instance, equipment and associated items may be seized and held pending the outcome of any prosecution.
If the investigating Officer feels the noise does not constitute a statutory nuisance you will be told, and the Local Authority will take no further action. However if you feel you are still suffering from noise problems, you can instigate your own private action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 direct to the Magistrates Court.
A contact telephone number for Mediation Buckinghamshire service. Website www.mediationbucks.org.uk
telephone 01494 520821
Environmental Health is part of The Environment Unit and can be contacted directly byTel: