You can now register complaints or enquires for the Environmental Protection team by visiting our online portal.
Noise nuisance is covered by Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This law empowers local authorities to deal with noise from fixed premises. Before action can be taken we have to be sure that the noise constitutes a statutory nuisance. This means that we have to prove that the noise is prejudicial to health and/or is causing an unreasonable and persistent disturbance to your lifestyle or enjoyment of your property.
It must occur regularly and continue for a period of time that makes it unreasonable. It is not enough for the issue to be annoying or disturbing. In deciding whether you have a justified complaint, you should ask yourself "What would be the likely reaction of the average, reasonable person to this noise?". There are no stated levels or time for noise to be assessed as a statutory nuisance; all nuisance is assessed subjectively. When assessing a case of we will take into consideration a range of factors including:
- impact – i.e. material interference with use of property or personal well-being; actually or likely to be adverse to health
- local environment
- motive – i.e. unreasonable behaviour or normal user
- sensitivity of the complainant – statutory nuisance relies on the concept of the average person, and is not designed to take account of unusual sensibilities.
Sometimes noise problems can be resolved informally between neighbours, by politely explaining the problem trying to come to a compromise. However, this informal approach may not always be successful, and some people may not be prepared to speak directly to the person(s) making the noise.
There are a number of different sources of noise pollution:
Noise from neighbours is a common source of disturbance. The most frequent complaints are:
- animal noise (e.g. barking dogs or birds)
- amplified noise (e.g. loud music or television)
- musical instruments
- household appliances (e.g. washing machine)
- DIY activities
- banging doors.
Remember that no house or flat is totally soundproof, and gardens and garages can be particularly noisy. Everyone can expect some noise from the people who live around them. You could be disturbed for the following reasons:
- the neighbours are behaving unreasonably
- the neighbours are behaving normally, but sound insulation in your home is not good enough to cut out the sounds of normal everyday living
- the sensitivity of people to different types of noise varies - sounds that some enjoy may annoy others.
Prior to contacting the council, you may want to consider approaching your neighbour and explain politely that you are being troubled by noise. You may find this difficult, but often people are unaware that they are causing a problem. Most will be glad to do what they can to reduce noise. However, approach the matter carefully if you think your neighbour might react angrily to a complaint. In cases where you might feel threatened, or where previous personal approaches have not worked, please report via our portal. Details can be found on the ‘How do I report? found at the top of this page.
Construction and demolition work is usually noisy and, although the work may not last long, noise disturbance may lead to problems for people who live and work near the site.
It is in the interest of all to try to anticipate potential problems and plan ways to avoid them. Good public relations will help minimise complaints – keeping local residents and businesses informed about what is happening on the site will help. People are generally more tolerant if they know why the work is necessary; when it will start and finish each day; and how long it will take.
The council has powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to investigate and where necessary take action against those responsible for causing a statutory noise nuisance. If you are being impacted by noise from construction/industrial sites, please report it to us by logging a complaint via our portal. Details can be found on the ‘How do I report?’ tab, found at the top of this page.
In addition to this, The Control of Pollution Act 1974 contains provisions to control noise and vibration from construction sites and other works. The act allows contractors to apply for Prior Consent and agree working hours, site noise levels and other measures prior to work starting. Where prior consent has not been agreed, the council has the power to serve a notice detailing its requirements for the control of site noise at any point during the works.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, we would expect works to take place only between these hours:
- Monday - Friday: 8am - 6pm
- Saturday: 8am - 1pm
- Sunday and bank holidays: no work.
It should be noted that these hours relate to noisy works which are audible beyond the site boundary. It is not a 'blanket' prohibition of work at all times. Painting by hand, for example, could be undertaken outside these hours without having a detrimental impact on others. Similarly the above restrictions do not normally apply to small scale domestic do-it-yourself type activities.
Exceptional circumstances may include:
- emergency works
- work required for immediate Health and Safety reasons
- work which is likely to cause major disruption to traffic and rail works may need to take at night or over the weekend.
In these instances we will endeavour to ensure that disturbance is kept to a minimum. This may be done by restricting noisy works to short periods and requiring that works are carried out in particular ways. Emergency works to gas or water supplies, for example, may also be carried out at short notice and this may be at night-time.
Please contact us via our online portal, which can be found on the ‘How do I report?’ tab at the top of this page at least 28 days before works start if you plan to carry out noisy construction works outside of normal working hours. This will allow us to consider whether works are acceptable or not with respect to protecting any nearby residents or other noise sensitive stakeholders who could be impacted by noise and vibration.
Good practice guidelines for contractors
Construction workers should follow a code of practice that details measures to help keep noise to a minimum.
The law requires that Best Practical Means (BPM) must be used to minimise noise. Contractors can obtain guidance from British Standard 5228 – “Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites”.
- keep to the normal working hours detailed above
- give at least 48 hours notice to residents
- select the quietest suitable plant and equipment and keep it properly maintained and observe safe working practices.
- fixed items of construction plant should be electrically powered rather than diesel or petrol driven. Vehicles and mechanical plant should be fitted with effective exhaust silencers and when not in use should be shut down or throttled down to a minimum. Keep noisy plant and machinery as far as possible away from noise sensitive buildings
- do not use radios on the site where it could cause disturbance.
Noise from licensed premises is a common cause for complaint, especially during warm weather. Residents living near to licensed premises should expect a certain amount of disturbance but not to the extent that it causes them a noise nuisance. The majority of complaints regarding noise from licensed premises include:
- noise from live or recorded amplified music
- low frequency content of the music
- musical instruments
- public address systems
- use of beer gardens and smoking shelters
- raised voices
Problems usually occur when the licensed premise is located within a residential area. Low frequency noise from music (the bass beat) can pass easily through a buildings structure. At night time background noise levels fall and entertainment noise may be more noticeable and cause disturbance.
If you are experiencing noise problems from licensed premises, you may want to consider approaching the premises directly to see if a resolution can be found and to give them an opportunity to address the issues. When this is not possible or it is ineffective, report it to us and we will investigate. Details of how to report can be found on the ‘How do I report?’ tab at the top of this page. The council has powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to investigate and prevent a statutory noise nuisance from occurring. An Abatement Notice can be served and contravention of such a notice is an offence. Monitoring of the nuisance is undertaken by our Night-Time Economy team and you may be issued with a link to our ‘Noise App’ and diary sheets to help to establish if a statutory noise nuisance exists.
On some occasions a premise licence will have specific noise conditions attached to it. The licensee has a duty to ensure that these conditions are met. Under the Licensing Act 2003, any responsible authority (which includes the Council and Police) can request a review of a premises license if it is felt that conditions are not being met. As part of any review, Officers from the Public Protection team can request additional noise control conditions be added to any existing Premise Licence. A review of Premises Licence is heard by the members of the Licensing Sub-Committee, and this Committee has the ability to either revoke, suspend or add additional conditions to a licence
Telford and Wrekin Council seeks to support businesses, but this must be balanced with the resident’s reasonable expectations and rights that they’re protected from unreasonable disturbance. There is often a compromise that can be found and the Public Protection team will work with all parties to try to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of everyone.
Due to the transitory nature of fireworks, they are an uncommon cause of statutory nuisance under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, however we would look to investigate if you are being regularly disturbed by the noise from fireworks. Details of how to report can be found on the ‘How do I report?’ tab found at the top of this page.
Regulation 7 of The Fireworks Regulations 2004, enforced by the police, makes it a criminal offence to use fireworks during the hours of 11pm to 7am, except on a permitted firework night, listed below. To report fireworks causing disturbance outside of these hours, please contact the police on 101. The Environmental Protection team would not look to investigate noise from fireworks on the days of these celebrations:
- 11pm to 1am – Chinese New Year
- 11pm to 12am – Bonfire Night (5 November)
- 11pm to 1am – Day of Diwali
- 11pm to 1am – New Year’s Eve (31 December).
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 also bans the sale of very loud fireworks of over 120 decibels.
If excessive noise is emitted from premises (including gardens) between 11pm and 7am. Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, local authorities or the police can issue a Community Protection Warning and subsequent notice where there is reasonable grounds to believe the subjects conduct:
- is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those living the locality, and;
- is unreasonable, and;
- the behaviour is of a persistent or continuing nature.
A house or vehicle alarm can be a very effective tool in deterring criminals and also making people aware that a crime is taking place. However when the alarm is on for a prolonged period, or where there are repeated ‘false’ activations, they can become a noise nuisance and disturb people in the local area.
There are simple steps you should take if you have an audible intruder alarm installed:
- it should be set to cut out after 20 minutes to avoid causing a noise nuisance
- make sure your alarm is properly serviced to reduce the possibility of any faults.
The council will always allow a reasonable time for the alarm to be deactivated however the council has powers to act when:
- the alarm has been sounding continuously for more than 20 minutes or intermittently for more than an hour
- the noise is likely to give people living or working nearby reasonable cause for annoyance.
We have the power to enter premises to disable the alarm. In most cases we will only need to disconnect the wiring to the external alarm box and will recover the costs of disabling the alarm from the occupier. If we need to physically enter the building, we must obtain a warrant.
In relation to vehicle alarms, if the alarm is not silenced following a notice being served, the council can remove the car and/or silence the alarm. The registered keeper will be charged the cost of removing and silencing the alarm.
What to do if an alarm sounds near you
- If you believe the alarm is a sounding legitimately, call the police. They will respond if there has been a break-in, but will not act to silence the alarm if there has not been a break-in.
- If you feel the alarm is causing a nuisance, try to establish the exact source of the nuisance, this enables the problem to be resolved more swiftly - note down the address and any other relevant details such as the name of the company on the alarm box or car registration, colour, make and model.
- Ask neighbours if they know the whereabouts of the owner or occupiers, or if anyone knows who holds a key.
- Contact us via our portal if the alarm has been sounding continuously for more than 20 minutes or intermittently for more than an hour. Details can be found on the ‘How do I report?’ tab, found at the top of this page.
Ice cream vans are permitted to use chimes to advertise their trade provided that they do not give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity. There is a code of practice which provides guidance on minimising the noise from ice cream van chimes. The main points of this are:
- they should not sound their chimes for more than 12 seconds at a time
- they should not sound their chimes more often than once every 2 minutes
- they should not sound their chimes when within 50 metres of a school (during school hours), hospitals and places of worship (on Sundays and other recognised days of worship)
- more often than once every two hours in the same length of street.
Under section 62 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (CoPA) it is an offence to sound charms from ice-cream vans before 12 noon and after 7pm and to operate it so loudly that it gives reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity.
The council has powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to investigate and where necessary, take action against those responsible for causing a statutory noise nuisance. It is very unlikely that chimes from an ice cream van would be deemed a statutory nuisance due to its short time of occurrence and not from a fixed, stationary location. However, if you are being impacted by noise from ice cream van charms, please report it to us by logging a complaint via our portal. Details can be found on the ‘How do I report?’ tab, found at the top of this page.
Last updated: 28/11/2023 11:51