Noise Complaints | South Norfolk Council

Noise Complaints

When people live close to their neighbours, a level of noise should be expected and accepted. Many noise issues can be resolved with your neighbour by having a polite word to make them aware and ask that noise levels are reduced. Often, they will be unaware. Check out our 'Dear Neighbour' letter template below.

We've put together some helpful tips on being a mindful neighbour, check out the video below:

 

Where noise is persistent and excessive, it may be considered antisocial and we may be able to help you resolve it if you have been unsuccessful with the suggested approach above.

There are no set noise constraints that people need to adhere to; it is really a question of what is reasonable behaviour. The circumstances differ for each case and we must consider them carefully before we take action.

We do not consider the following noise as antisocial behaviour:

  • General living noise - ‘General living’ includes noise such as vacuuming, walking around, doors opening/closing, general conversations etc.
     
  • Children playing noise - Play is an essential part of every child’s life and vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as their health, wellbeing and development.  Although some types of behaviour can be annoying, children playing in the street or communal areas is not antisocial behaviour.
     
  • Baby crying -  If you have concerns about the welfare of a child, please contact Norfolk County Council’s social services safeguarding team on 0344 800 8020 or report any concerns online. If you feel a child is at risk of immediate harm, call the police on 999.

When to call the police

If the arguing and shouting is outside the home and in the street, this is a case of public disorder or signs of domestic abuse, for which the police have the powers to respond. You should contact the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

If you feel that the noise from your neighbours indicates that somebody is at risk of domestic abuse or other serious harm, you should contact the police immediately on 999.

What do I need to report a persistent noise?

If you are disturbed on a regular basis, you may want to have a friendly chat with your neighbour or use our 'Dear Neighbour' card below.

If the problem persists you can make a formal complaint. To do this you will need to keep records of the noise using monitoring forms, which we will send you. You must monitor the noise over a minimum period of 14 days and these forms may be used as evidence in any court case or prosecution. Please be aware that we will contact the noise maker.

We can investigate complaints about noise from a neighbour. In most cases, you should approach your neighbour directly about the matter to try to resolve the problem informally.

If the problem continues then you should report the issue to us.

We will write to your neighbour to make them aware that we have received a complaint and you will be asked to complete monitoring forms to record when and how the noise is affecting you. Depending on what the monitoring forms show, we may install noise monitoring equipment in your property or we may visit to assess the noise ourselves.

If your complaint is about a Housing Association tenant, you should report the matter to their Housing Officer. The Housing Association will take the lead on investigating the complaint, but we will work with them to try to resolve the issue.

We can take action if an alarm is sounding for prolonged periods or on a frequent basis. The police are often contacted about burglar alarm noise, however they will refer all noise complaints to us unless there is a report of suspicious or criminal activity.

We will investigate complaints of misfiring alarms under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Firstly we will try to find out if there is a key holder who can silence the alarm. If we can’t find a key holder we will visit the area to determine whether the noise is causing a statutory nuisance. If we are satisfied that the noise is causing a statutory nuisance, we can serve a legal notice on the person responsible. If the alarm is still sounding after one hour and all reasonable steps have been taken to contact either the owner, the occupier, or any nominated key holders of the property, then we can undertake work to silence the alarm.

We can investigate complaints about barking dogs which are affecting the use and enjoyment of your property. In the first instance you should contact the owner of the dog and make them aware that you are being disturbed to try to resolve the matter informally. Your neighbour may be unaware that their dog is causing a problem.

If the problem continues after approaching your neighbour, you should report the issue to us.

We will write to your neighbour to make them aware that we have received a complaint and you will be asked to complete monitoring forms to record when and how the noise is affecting you. On receipt of your monitoring forms, we will consider how often, how long,  and at what time of the day the dog is barking, to determine if we can take formal action. We may also install noise monitoring equipment in your property or we may visit to assess the noise ourselves.

We will take the appropriate legal action if we establish that the barking is significant enough to constitute a statutory nuisance as defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

We will investigate complaints about noise coming from licensed premises. We will make the premises management aware that a complaint has been received, giving them some details about your concerns so they can resolve the problem. You may be asked to complete monitoring forms which will help us to determine how often the noise is occurring, the duration, time of day and how the use of your property is being affected.

If we establish that the noise is significant enough to constitute a statutory nuisance as defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we will take the appropriate legal action.

Pubs and bars are also subject to requirements under the Licensing Act 2003.

A certain amount of noise is expected from any building or construction site but when this noise starts to affect you, we will investigate. Building activity is not restricted to set times or days. However, we suggest that where residents can be disturbed, sites should work from 7:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday and 8:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays, with no noisy construction work on Sundays or public holidays.

Noise and vibration from demolition and construction sites can be formally controlled by a local authority by serving a notice under Section 60 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. This legislation gives us the power to restrict the days and hours of work, the ways in which works are carried out and the type of plant that is used. Failure to comply with the requirements of a notice can lead to a fine of up to £20,000.

Bird scarers are essential for farmers to help protect certain crops and are not illegal. If a farmer or landowner is using a bird scarer, they must make sure that they are not causing a statutory nuisance to others and that the scarers are used in accordance with the Bird Scarers Code of Practice produced by the National Farmers Union (NFU).

If you are experiencing disruption from a bird scarer and you know who owns it, you may wish to make them aware of the problems you are experiencing. They may not be aware that it is causing you a problem.

If approaching the farmer is not successful, or you do not know who is responsible, you can report the problem to us. You may be asked to complete monitoring forms, which will allow us to create a picture of how often and at what times of the day the bird scarer is being used.

It is not illegal to keep cockerels in a residential area, however if its crowing affects other people in the area then we can investigate and take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

For us to take formal action, the crowing has to be excessive and at unreasonable hours, significantly interfering with the enjoyment of your home. In most cases, you should approach your neighbour directly about the matter to try to resolve the problem informally.

If the problem continues then you can report the issue to us.

Letters will be sent to both parties and you will be asked to complete a set of monitoring forms, to show us how often you are being affected by the noise.

On receipt of the forms, officers may visit to determine whether a statutory nuisance is occurring. We will try to offer advice and assistance to the owner of the animal to minimise the crowing. If we are satisfied that the crowing is causing a statutory nuisance, a notice can be served to reduce or stop the noise occurring.

Noise from aircraft falls outside our powers to deal with noise.

To register an enquiry/complaint about military aircraft activities, please contact the Ministry of Defence Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit:

  • Email: SWK-lowflying@mod.gov.uk .
  • Telephone: 01780 417558 Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm (excluding bank holidays)
  • Address: Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit, RAF Wittering, Peterborough PE8 6H

To register an enquiry/complaint about domestic aircraft noise, please contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on 020 7379 7311, or email infoservices@caa.co.uk .

Noise can - if not controlled have significant adverse effects on those nearby.

Where a planning application is for a noise sensitive development such as:

  • A residential development next to existing noise sources (Major road, industrial site etc.)
  • A new industrial/commercial activity which has the potential to cause a noise disturbance to existing residential properties, or where the use changes or intensifies

We would require details, often by way of a noise assessment by a suitably qualified person, to demonstrate that the development will comply with current noise standards for both internal and external noise levels.

It is preferable to receive the assessment as part of the planning application to avoid delays in the application process.

How do I get a noise assessment carried out?

We can't recommend consultants but a list can be obtained from the Institute of Acoustics website and the Association of Noise Consultants website.

The process of completing a successful noise assessment involves:

  • discussing with us the need for and timing of an assessment
  • selecting and appointing an acoustic consultant
  • agreement between noise consultant and council on noise criteria and the sources and receptors to be considered
  • noise measurements
  • assessment of noise impact at relevant receptor
  • specification of noise mitigation if required
  • preparation and submission of detailed report.

Where can I find further information?

  • Noise Policy Statement for England - published on 15 March 2010. It sets out the long term vision of government noise policy, to promote good health and a good quality of life through the management of noise.
  • National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) - a key part of the government’s reforms to make the planning system less complex and more accessible. It vastly simplifies the number of policy pages about planning.
  • British Standard 4142:2014 Methods for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound.
  • British Standard 8233:2014 Guidance on sound insulation and noise reduction for buildings.
  • MCS Planning Standards - For permitted development installations of wind turbines and air source heat pumps on domestic premises.
  • Building Regulations - Approved Document E deals mainly with the requirements for sound insulation in residential developments.