The principal legislative controls on excessive
- The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part III which
deals with noise as a statutory nuisance;
- The Control of Pollution Act 1974, Part III covers
construction site noise and certain noise in the street;
- The Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 which as
well as amending the EPA and COPA also covers noise emitted from
vehicles or equipment on the street, and burglar alarms.
- The Noise Act 1996 makes certain night-time noise a
criminal offence and provides powers to confiscate noise-making
Anyone living in
the United Kingdom has a legal right to be protected against noise
nuisance. Nuisance itself may be defined as "an unlawful
interference with a person's use or enjoyment of land or of some
right over, or in connection with it". Nuisance at law is a tort,
i.e. a civil wrong, for which courts can provide a remedy, usually
damages. In any action for noise nuisance the key factors are the
need for an aggrieved person to establish that his occupation of
land or property is affected by noise, and that each case will be
considered on its merit.
General noise nuisance may be dealt with under ss. 79-81 of
the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended), which
empowers local authorities to deal with noise from fixed premises.
Individuals may take action under s.82. Excessive noise from
council dwellings or other rented properties can often be dealt
with as a breach of tenancy agreement where this includes a clause
restricting noise, and the tenants taken to court.
The Housing Act 1996 also enables both
private and council landlords to evict tenants for anti-social
behavior e.g. for causing a nuisance. See the bottom of the
page to download the policy which explains the roles of social
landlords and the Environmental Protection Group in resolving
neighbour nuisance problems.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part III deals with
statutory nuisance and s.79 places a duty on local authorities to
require its area to be inspected from time to time to detect
whether a statutory nuisance exists: this includes "noise emitted
from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a
nuisance". Premises include land and vessels
(except those powered by "steam reciprocating machinery") and noise
includes vibration. Noise from aircraft other
than from model aircraft is excluded (see Statutory Nuisance page).
Similar powers to investigate noise in the street are provided
through an amendment to s.79 of the EPA in the Noise and
Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.
Local authorities must also take such steps as are reasonably
practicable to investigate any complaints of statutory nuisance in
their area. Where the local authority is satisfied that a statutory
nuisance exists, or is likely to occur or recur, it must serve an
abatement notice requiring
- the abatement of the nuisance or
prohibiting or restricting its occurrence or recurrence;
- the carrying out of such works or
other action necessary to abate the nuisance.
Failure to comply with a notice can lead to prosecution.
The Environmental Protection Group at South Lakeland District
Council dealt with 527 complaints about noise in the last financial
year alone. These complaints range from barking dogs to burglar
alarms, thumping bass beats to industrial fans, pneumatic drills to
fireworks. Each of these complaints is investigated in the same
way, following Council procedure. The Council's Noise and
can be viewed here.
The Local Authority would always advise talking to the person
causing a noise in the first instance in order to try to resolve
the situation amicably. Remember, whatever happens, you still
have to live next door to one another.
To make a request for this service online, please use our
Individuals may also take private action against statutory
nuisance. Advice on this is contained in the 'Guide to
Statutory Nuisance' leaflet below.
If you are suffering from Noise Nuisance you may find our