Investigating noise complaints

Pollution Control can take action under Section 80 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 where noise constitutes a statutory nuisance.

To determine whether noise is a statutory nuisance we consider:

  • what the noise is
  • how often the noise occurs
  • how loud the noise is
  • what time of day/night the noise occurs
  • how it is affecting the person complaining about the noise 

We assess the complaint taking into account the relevant legal standards and resolve it either by negotiation and/or by taking enforcement action.

In most cases we will first write to the person you have complained about. This will let them know that a complaint has been made, and ask them to consider ways to prevent their actions from being a nuisance. Details of who has made the complaint are not disclosed. 

We will ask you to complete a diary record giving details of any further disturbance over a period of between 2-4 weeks. If the nuisance continues you can return the completed diary record so that an assessment can be made. If we don’t hear from you after 28 days we will assume that the matter has been resolved. 

Where appropriate, an officer will make a number of visits to assess whether or not the nuisance represents a statutory nuisance. Visits can be made at times when the nuisance is likely to occur including outside office hours. Noise recording equipment may be installed in your house. In most cases it will be necessary for an officer to witness the noise before formal action can be taken. 

Where an officer is satisfied that a statutory noise nuisance exists, an abatement notice, under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 may be served on the person causing the problem. This will require the person to stop causing a disturbance and may also require works to achieve this to be carried out within a specified time. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence that the person could be prosecuted for, subject to the necessary evidence being obtained. Alternatively, we may carry out the work ourselves.