Report a problem with noise
A noise nuisance is an unreasonable amount of noise which has a serious detrimental effect on your life. Noise can be upsetting and disturbing, but for the Council to take action, it needs to be more than a simple annoyance.
Common causes of noise disturbance are:
- neighbours' music systems, radios or televisions
- music from pubs and clubs
- noisy parties and functions
- misfiring intruder, fire or car alarms
- construction and demolition including DIY
- barking dogs
The process of determining whether noise constitutes a nuisance can be quite subjective. When deciding if the noise you are experiencing is a nuisance that we can take action for, our officers will assess a number of factors including:
- the time of day the noise happens
- how long the noise goes on for each time it happens
- how often the noise happens
- what type of noise it is and what causes it
- how loud the noise is
- where the noise is occurring and the character of the locality
Officers don't have to measure the level of the noise or take readings in order to decide if it is a nuisance that they can deal with. The judgement of an independent and experienced officer is enough to make a decision on whether the noise is a nuisance or not. Where there is a nuisance, a noise abatement notice will be served prohibiting or restricting the noise.
The definition of what constitutes a statutory nuisance has been developed through case-law. This means the courts have considered individual cases and decided the types of things that can be considered a statutory nuisance. Such case-law sets a precedent that the Council has to take into account when deciding whether a statutory nuisance exists.
The courts have decided that noise from the ordinary and reasonable use of residential premises cannot be considered as a statutory nuisance. This means that general everyday living noise such as footsteps, banging doors, flushing toilets, talking, etc. are not something we can take action for, except in very exceptional circumstances.
There are also some other types of noise we cannot deal with:
- traffic noise (link to HM Government page on controls on noise from vehicles)
- aircraft noise (link to HM Government page on how to complain about aircraft noise)
- noise from people in the street
- noise caused by children
- fireworks - fireworks regulations are enforced by the police
- emergency road works
We may also not be able to regulate noise caused by statutory undertakers who can claim a statutory authority defence. This may cover:
- road works carried out by utility companies including those supplying gas, electricity, water and telephone services
- railway, light railway and tram operators
The statutory nuisance regime in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 deals with noise, but so does the Noise Act 1996 (noise coming from premises between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.) and the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (noise from construction sites and loudspeakers in the street).
Excessive noise can also be classed as anti-social behaviour and can be dealt with under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
What can you do?
Before contacting the Council you may wish to contact the person responsible for causing the noise and explain politely that you are being disturbed by it. Although you may find this difficult, it is surprising how often neighbours are unaware of the problems they are causing. Most will be glad to do what they can to reduce the noise and appreciate a personal approach rather than involving the council. If the noise continues you may write to them and ask them to stop making the noise nuisance. If you do not feel comfortable approaching or are unable to approach the noise maker yourself you can report the noise using our online form.
What if speaking to the noise maker does not work?
You can report the noise using our online form.
Please be aware that you must provide your details as we are unable to accept or investigate the complaint without these. When we receive your complaint it will be allocated to an Officer who will contact you to discuss the most appropriate way of investigating your complaint.
Out-of-hours we provide a limited service to deal with emergency situations. In an emergency:
• Telephone 0191 278 7878 and ask for 'environmental health'
What will happen after I complain?
An Officer will contact you and seek your agreement to write to the alleged noise maker. If we do not have your agreement we will be unable to investigate your complaint. We may also require you to complete a noise diary for us. We can send this to you in the post or via email
The diary will allow us to establish if there are any patterns to the incidents and whether the circumstances would be enough for us to take formal action. When you have returned your diary it will be assessed by an Officer to determine if further investigation is required. If further investigation is required we will contact you to discuss how we will do this. It may involve ad-hoc visits or installing noise recording equipment into your property. This will help us gather evidence of the noise you are complaining about.
We won't reveal your identity during our initial investigations. However, it may become necessary to reveal your identity to support the Council’s case if formal legal action is taken. Evidence from you to support a case, such as the incident diaries and witness statement, may be disclosed during any prosecution or appeal against an abatement notice.
If your complaint goes on to a formal investigation stage, it may be registered against your property. This then has to be disclosed if and when you come to sell it.
The Council must serve an abatement notice on someone responsible for a statutory nuisance, or on the premises owner or occupier if this is not possible. This may require whoever’s responsible to stop the activity or limit it to certain times to avoid causing a nuisance and can include specific actions to reduce the problem.
Need more information?
Public Safety & Regulation
Newcastle upon Tyne
Telephone: 0191 278 7878
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