The Control of Noise

The principal legal control over neighbourhood noise is based on the concept of 'nuisance', contained in Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Act empowers local authorities to deal with noise from premises such as homes, pubs, and factories, and from machinery, equipment and vehicles in the street.

If an environmental health practitioner is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, the local authority will usually, though not always, serve an Abatement Notice on the person responsible for the problem. Failure to comply with the notice after that time is a criminal offence, and the person could be prosecuted. Equipment used in the commission of a noise offence can be seized.

There are some occasions where the local authority is unable to take action, particularly where the noise occurs intermittently and is not judged to be a statutory nuisance. If the local authority decides that formal action cannot be taken, the complainant will be informed and will be given advice about taking action themselves if they wish to do so.

Further information and advice on dealing with noisy neighbours can be found in the following Defra information guide:

If you are currently suffering a noise nuisance and need advice or assistance, please contact your local council environmental health department. You may be able to do this by email. See the Directgov website for details.

Summary of noise legislation as at September 2012.

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