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Dealing with a noise nuisance

If you are having a dispute with your neighbours over noise, you may need to get your local council involved. They may be able to help you resolve the problem with practical or legal solutions.

Noisy neighbours

It's best to try and resolve the problem early on by talking to whoever is responsible for the noise. It's also important to establish the facts - make a record of where the noise is coming from, at what time, and the reasons for it. Some local councils will give you a noise record sheet to note the problems.

Contact your local council (usually the environmental health department deals with noise issues). They will give you practical advice and may suggest using mediation services to help resolve the dispute.

Commercial noise and noise from traffic

Noise pollution from trade, industrial and business premises (for example, noisy machinery, pubs and clubs) is dealt with similarly to that from domestic premises.

If you are having problems with noise from road traffic or railways you may be eligible for a noise insulation grant from your local council. You can find out more in 'Traffic noise pollution' from the travel and transport section.

How your local council deals with ongoing noise problems

The assessment of noise nuisance is based on whether it is 'reasonable', bearing in mind the locality, how often noise occurs and how many people are affected.

If the local council thinks the noise is a statutory nuisance, they will serve an abatement notice on the neighbour. An abatement notice will set out what is required of your neighbour. For example, if the issue is loud music, they may be asked to stop the noise outright, or be asked to just play music between set times.

In some cases, the council may not need to prove a statutory nuisance where the premises hold a public entertainment licence. Action can be taken against premises that operate outside their licensing agreement.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with the order is £5,000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for industrial, trade or business premises. In extreme cases, prosecutions can be made for anti-social behaviour, if the police have enough evidence.

Reporting a noise nuisance

If you wish to report a noise problem, you should make a record of where and when the noise is occurring.

The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Complaining about dogs that bark

Constant barking, whining or howling can be disturbing and annoying for neighbours.

You can make a complaint to your local council about a dog that is disturbing you, or causing a nuisance, because of its barking. Usually the environmental health department will handle your complaint. Contact your local council for details.

Mediation services

Before registering a formal complaint it is a good idea to try talking to your neighbour about the problem. If you find this intimidating or would like some support, various community mediation services are available. You can contact the National Mediation Helpline to find a service near you.

Noise maps

On the Noise Mapping England website, you can find interactive maps for cities and large urban areas. You can search by postcode and view airports. You can also download maps for the major transportation links between cities and large urban areas.

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