How will leaving the EU change things?
Environmental laws that come from Europe will continue to apply for the time being.
- European Directive relating to the Assessment and Management of Noise (Directive 2002/49 EC - also known as the Environmental Noise Directive or 'END') - requires European member states to compile noise maps, provide public information about noise and its effects, and adopt noise action plans. It only covers certain types of outdoor noise, such as from roads, trains, air traffic and big industrial plants. It does not cover indoor noise, noisy neighbours or work-place noise. The Directive has been implemented by Environmental Noise Regulations (below) and a series of noise maps and plans. Click on these links for more information about the maps and plans for England, Wales and Scotland.
- European Directive on Noise at Work (Directive 2003/10/EC) - lays down minimum requirements for the protection of workers from health and safety risks from exposure to noise. It sets noise exposure limits, requires employers to carry out regular risk assssments, and to eliminate risks or reduce them to a minimum including, if necessary, by providing hearing protectors.
The UK does not have a consolidated body of legislation on noise pollution. Here are some selected pieces of legislation that deal with noise pollution. Please note that the list is not exhaustive.
Legislation affecting England, Scotland and Wales
- Control of Pollution Act 1974 - Part III gives local authorities powers to control construction site noise and certain levels of street noise - section 62 has two versions, one that applies in England and Wales, the other in Scotland.
- Environmental Protection Act 1990 - Part III gives local authorities powers to treat various things as statutory nuisances, including noise from premises and noise in the street from vehicles (not including traffic noise), from machinery and from other equipment such as loudspeakers - some sections have different versions for England/Wales and Scotland, while others only apply in England/Wales or Scotland.
- Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 - section 8 gives local authorities powers to consent to the use of loudspeakers in the street.
- Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 - require employers to take steps to protect employees from exposure to excessive noise. They implement European Directive 2003/10/EC on Noise at Work.
Legislation affecting England and Wales only
- Land Compensation Act 1973, the Noise Insulation Regulations 1975 and the Noise Insulation (Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems) Regulations 1996 allow for grants for the cost of sound insulation in premises subjected to noise from new or upgraded roads or railways which result in excessive noise levels beyond stated thresholds.
- Noise Act 1996 - criminalises certain forms of night time noise and gives local councils power to confiscate certain kinds of noise-making equipment.
- Housing Act 1996 and Crime and Disorder Act 1998 - both tackle anti-social behaviour including excessive noise.
- The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 provide local authorities and the Environment Agency with powers to control emissions from certain industrial processes, including noise emissions.
- The Building Regulations 2000 - regulate building development by requiring that construction meets certain standards, including sound insulation standards.
- Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 - amends the Licensing Act of 1964 and gives the police summary powers to close a licensed premises that is causing excessive noise.
- Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006 - implement the European Environmental Noise Directive (END) in England.
- Environmental Noise (Wales) Regulations 2006 - implement the European Environmental Noise Directive (END) in Wales.
- Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 - grants powers to local authorities to investigate night noises whether or not they have adopted the provisions of the Noise Act 1996.
- The Fireworks Regulations 2004 - provide controls on the use of fireworks, especially in public places. These include an outright ban on the use of powerful fireworks by unauthorised persons and on-the-spot fines for anyone using fireworks during anti-social hours (11pm to 7am). Under-18s are also banned from possessing or using most fireworks in public places or at anti-social hours.
- Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 - Part 7 gives local authorities powers to control audible intruder alarms.
- Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 - Part 1 gives the police, local authorities and housing associations powers to tackle unreasonable noise that amounts to anti-social behaviour.
Legislation affecting Scotland only
- Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 and the Noise Insulation (Scotland) Regulations 1975 allow for grants for the cost of sound insulation in premises subjected to noise from new or upgraded roads which result in excessive noise levels beyond stated thresholds.
- Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 - section 54 gives the police powers to control and seize noisy musical instruments, radios and other sound-producing devices.
- The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 - provides the Scottish Environment Protection Agency with powers to control emissions from certain industrial processes, including noise emissions.
- Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004 - Part 5 gives local authorities powers to control noise from accommodation, shared gardens and common property during specified periods.
- Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations 2004 - provides controls on the use of fireworks, especially in public places.
- Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006 - implement the European Environmental Noise Directive (END) in Scotland.
- Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008 - section 113 amended the statutory nuisance provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to give local council officers powers to serve fixed penalty notices as an alternative to prosecution in cases of failure to comply with an abatement notice.