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Noise pollution and noise nuisance

Research has shown that nearly a third of people in Britain are annoyed by neighbour noise. Unwanted noise can cause immense stress, disrupt sleep patterns and generally make people feel run down and on edge.

‌Noise becomes a nuisance when it begins to affect your ability to use your own property in the way you would normally and is as a result of unreasonable actions by your neighbour. Before any formal action can be taken against a noisy neighbour, we have to show the noise is materially interfering with your way of life, for example, if the noise is waking you up or preventing you from falling asleep, or if you have been forced to increase the volume of your own music or television to be able to hear it. The noise also has to be occurring on a frequent basis - if a loud late night party is a one off, we are unlikely to be able to take formal action.

For noise that is recurring and causing you a problem Rushcliffe Borough Council resident’s can now report noise via the Noise App. The noise app allows you to make short audio recordings of the noise and enter details about the nature of the disturbance using your smartphone which then combine to make an electronic noise diary. This can then easily be sent to the Council's Neighbourhoods service (Environmental Health) for investigation by submitting the complaint via the app (please note that an email account must be set up on the smartphone). You can download the app for free using your smartphone at the following links:

The Noise App for Apple users

The Noise App for Android users

You will be required to register your details following the installation of the app and select Rushcliffe Borough Council as your Service Provider. Please ensure that 'push notifications' are allowed so that you can be notified on your smartphone when the Council messages you within the app. For information on using the app download the user guide below from the following link.

The Noise App Userguide    

Alarms

Alarms going off accidentally can be extremely annoying - often waking up an entire neighbourhood. New laws now allow all local authorities in England and Wales to designate areas where premises with intruder alarms must register a key holder, who should be available if an alarm goes off accidentally. If you have a car or intruder alarm, make sure it is properly fitted, regularly maintained and has a cut out. Whether it is obligatory under law or not, registering a key holder for your premises with your local authority can save you aggravation and expense if your alarm goes off accidentally when you are out or away.

Residents can register their burglar alarm with environmental health by completing a Burglar alarm registration form. The service uses the information - which includes a keyholder who can be contacted in an emergency - if people are away from home and the alarm is causing a nuisance to other residents. If people are not registered, the Council may have to silence the alarm under a court warrant and recover costs from the homeowner - which could amount to around £250.

Anti-social behaviour

This is behaviour that disturbs others. If you are leaving a pub, bar, club, party or friends' house - be considerate - say your good byes quietly. Avoid shouting, slamming doors, revving car engines - especially at night. Noise is generally only one element of anti-social behaviour - and there are now laws to deal with behaviour that is judged to be anti-social.

Barking dogs

Noise from barking dogs is a common cause for complaint. If you wish to make a complaint, first you must ask yourself if you are being reasonable. Dogs do bark, especially at refuse collectors and window cleaners and people visiting the house.

If the problem persists try approaching the owners of the dog(s). If they are out at work when the dog is barking, they may not be aware of the problem. If this has no effect, you can contact us, who will send a letter to the owners informing them of an alleged noise nuisance and asking them to take any reasonable steps to reduce the disturbance. You will also receive a letter with an attached diary sheet, which should be completed and returned to environmental health should the noise continue.

From there we will investigate the noise by observation. If the noise is considered to be a statutory nuisance a noise abatement notice will be served on the owners of the dog(s). However, if a statutory nuisance is not proved, you will be informed that no action can be taken.

Noise from neighbours

We all hear noise from our neighbours from time to time - it is a part of everyday life and keeps our neighbourhoods vibrant. However, too much noise in the wrong place at the wrong time can cause friction between neighbours. This can be voices, impact noise from floors and doors, DIY and gardening activities, noisy domestic appliances etc. Remember that no home is completely sound proof - and we all make noise sometimes.

If noise from your neighbours is disturbing you, approach them politely and explain the problem. Neighbours often do not realise they are causing a problem and are usually more than happy to adjust and fit in with their neighbours.

If this does not work, or if you feel unable to approach the neighbour, contact us.

Noise and vibration from plant and machinery

The Council’s Environmental Health team works to monitor, investigate and control noise, dust and air pollution from construction sites that may affect local residents. Our aim is to ensure pollution is kept to a minimum.

Under Section 60 of the Control of Pollution Act (1974), the Council may serve a notice imposing conditions on the sites' operating hours, and on the plant and machinery used (based on best available techniques). The Council may also specify noise levels which should not be exceeded.

Any of these conditions made by the Council could vary according to such factors as the type and extent of the work being undertaken and the site location in relation to the surrounding residences.

For further information or to raise any concerns with the operation of a construction site, please contact us.

What Environmental Health will do

If you make a noise complaint to us, you will be sent a diary sheet to record the details of noise and how the noise is affecting you. This record provides us with evidence that the noise is affecting you on a regular basis.

Alternatively, if you have an Apple or Android smartphone you can now use ‘The Noise App’ to support your complaint about a noise nuisance. The app allows you to make short audio recordings of the noise and enter details about the nature of the disturbance using your smartphone which then combine to make an electronic noise diary. This can then easily be sent to the Council's Neighourhoods service (Environmental Health) for investigation by submitting the complaint via the app (please note that an email account must be set up on the smartphone). You can download the app for free using your smartphone at the following links:

The Noise App for Apple users

The Noise App for Android users

You will be required to register your details following the installation of the app and select Rushcliffe Borough Council as your Service Provider. Please ensure that 'push notifications' are allowed so that you can be notified on your smartphone when the Council messages you within the app. For information on using the app download the user guide below from the following link.

The Noise App Userguide          

As part of the investigation we will send a letter to the people causing the alleged problem to let them know that their activities are giving rise to complaint and to seek improvement in the noise affecting you.

Your details are not released at this time, but be aware that should there only be two houses in a remote location, or there is already friction between neighbours people may be able to guess who made the complaint against them.

If the noise is still occurring and is particularly loud and disturbing between the hours of 8.30am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, you can contact us and, if a member of staff is available, they will try to visit as soon as possible. It is still necessary at this stage to keep a record of each time the noise is disturbing or to continue to use the noise app. If the noise is mainly occurring outside normal office hours, it may be appropriate to install automated noise monitoring equipment within your home. This equipment enables you to record any disturbing noise incidents exactly as you hear them.

Statutory nuisance

If the Environmental Health Officer is satisfied that the noise is loud enough and frequent enough to be a statutory nuisance, a formal Abatement Notice will be served on the person responsible for the noise. This Abatement Notice tells the person that they are causing a nuisance, and tells them what they must do to stop it. Often this will solve the problem, however you must continue writing down when/if noise still affects you.

When noise continues after an abatement notice

If, after service of a Statutory Notice, the people responsible for the noise continue to cause you a nuisance, they are committing an offence. If this is the case, the Environmental Health Officer will want to hear the noise, and you may find that officers arrange to visit you at home in order to do this.

If the Environmental Health Officer witnesses a 'statutory noise nuisance' after an Abatement Notice has been served, consideration will be given to prosecuting the person responsible for the noise. At this stage, you will be asked to provide all your diary records to date, and a witness statement will be taken from you.

Many cases do not get this far - a solution is often reached early on - however, should we need to prosecute a noisy neighbour, we may have to release your name in court, and you may even be asked to attend as a witness.

You will be asked to continue to note down when/if the noise causes you a problem. This will be used as further evidence should the person responsible continue to cause a nuisance. In cases of continuing noise nuisance, an Environmental Health Officer may consider seizing the item that is generating the noise; for example, their stereo, DIY tools or even, in extreme cases, their dog.

Whilst it is well understood that being subject to unwanted noise can be very stressful, you must resist the temptation to retaliate; for example, by increasing the volume of your own stereo. You must also resist approaching the person responsible for the noise in an aggressive or violent manner. Remember to always remain polite.

Retaliation and aggressive behaviour on your part may discredit any evidence that is collected. In any case, if you retaliate you may find that formal action is taken against yourself for causing a noise nuisance! If at any time you feel physically threatened by your noisy neighbour then you must call the police.