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Local Authority Powers to Curb Noise

Environmental health officers investigate complaints to local councils about noise (see FAQs for details of how to make a complaint). They assess the noise level from the premises that the complaint is about and decide whether it is “prejudicial to health or a nuisance”, in which case it is a "statutory nuisance" under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Even if the noise does not affect your health (for example, by disturbing your sleep), it can be regarded as a nuisance if the level of noise is unreasonable for your neighbourhood. The council can serve an “abatement notice" on the person making the noise. This could require the noisy activity to stop, demand steps to reduce the noise (such as insulation or volume control) or restrict the times of day that the noisy activity can take place.

The notice can be served on the landlord or owner of the premises if the problem relates to the condition of the premises. The person named on the notice has 21 days to challenge it in a magistrates’ court (or in Scotland, the sheriff court), after which they can be fined for each day that the noise continues. Usually, there is no need for you to go to court. Local authorities are allowed to do “whatever is necessary” to enforce the notice. This includes confiscating any equipment that is causing the noise, so once the council has taken action the noise should stop.

Local authorities also have separate powers to tackle anti-social noise from council tenants and local residents under Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

If you are not satisfied with the steps your local authority has taken, ask the environmental health department why the noise has not stopped. If you are still unhappy you can complain (find out more here), or you can take action yourself through the courts.

Legislation

Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

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