Noise Nuisance

It is a fact of life that we all make noise. Whether we are talking to others, playing music, driving in our cars or just going about our daily business.

What is a noise to one person may be pleasurable to another. Excessive noise can reduce the quality of life and, in some extreme cases, even destroy it entirely.

The Council are able to investigate complaints of noise nuisance and advise on methods of reducing noise at source and take legal action to secure noise abatement, however, we are not able to investigate complaints which are made anonymously.

Steps to reduce noise nuisance

  • Try and do noisy DIY jobs during the day
  • Apologise in advance for doing any noisy DIY jobs
  • Warn neighbours if you are going to have a party, this is a simple step to take and will promote tolerance
  • Avoid leaving noisy pets at home if you can - a dog barking continually can annoy neighbours and can also get the owner into trouble. The 'Why is your dog barking & what can you do about it' leaflet is available to download here.
  • If you keep chickens, ask yourself, do I really need a cockerel as they are not required for hens to lay eggs. The Noise from Cockerels Crowing advisory leaflet provides practical advice.

Frequently asked questions

How loud can I play my music? 

There is no set level. It will depend whether anyone is likely to be disturbed by the noise. As a guide if you close the door to the room where the music is playing and the music can still be heard in the adjacent rooms then it is likely that your neighbour can hear it too. 

Are there set times I can play my music? 

There are no set times. It depends whether you are causing nuisance. Daytime noise is more likely to be tolerated than night time noise. 

Construction noise, DIY - hours of work 

Noisy construction work from tradesman/builders should normally be carried out during the following hours applying the best available technique (the right tools for the job): Mon to Fri 08:00 till 18:00, Sat 08:00 till 13:00, Sundays and Bank Holidays at no time. DIY (do it yourself) is not restricted to these hours and each case is judged individually, taking into account frequency or works, type of work, how late/early the works take place. 

Misfiring Intruder Alarms 

The Public Health Team have the power to disconnect alarms if they frequently misfire, and obtain warrants where necessary to enter premises or have vehicles towed away - the bill for this will be charged to the owner. 

What can be done about noisy fans, extractors, mechanical plant? 

Mechanical plant at commercial or industrial premises is often located near residential premises. When assessing whether a noise from mechanical plant is a nuisance The Public Health Section refers to a British Standard, taking into consideration any intrusive, tonal components. For more advice please contact us.

What can be done about normal neighbour noise? 

Noise nuisance law is not always appropriate for resolving certain noise problems. These include cases of noise:

  • Caused by a person who can not be held criminally responsible for their actions, e.g. young children or the mentally ill;
  • Arising from ordinary domestic use, e.g. vacuuming during the day or toilet flushing, unless the noise is especially unusual or unreasonable
  • Normal domestic noise arising from poor sound insulation

The Public Health Section can provide information on how to improve the sound insulation in your premises and in certain circumstances refer your case for mediation. Mediation may be the most effective way to resolve neighbour issues.

What can the Council do about firework noise? 

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 are enforced by the Police. They prohibit anyone under 18 from possessing fireworks in a public place, and anyone except professionals from possessing display fireworks. These regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night (11pm - 7am), with extensions for the following festivals:

  • Until 1.00am on the night of the Chinese New Year
  • Until 1.00am on the night of Diwali
  • Until 1.00am on New Year's Eve
  • Until midnight on 5th November

Further information is available on the Law on Fireworks page.

Who do I contact?

The Public Health Team should be contacted if you are affected by any of the following:

  • Music that is so loud it prevents you or members of your family sleeping
  • Building sites which make noise outside the accepted hours. Working hours for building contractors are usually 8:00 to 18.00 Monday to Friday and 8:00 to 13:00 on Saturday. Contractors working outside these hours may be liable for prosecution
  • Intruder and car alarms which ring continuously without their cut off switch activating or the system being turned off
  • DIY work during unreasonable hours
  • Persistent and prolonged noise from animals, such as barking dogs

This list is not exhaustive, and if you are suffering from any other noise problem, you should contact The Public Health Section to discuss the matter. 

We can take legal action on your behalf if we are satisfied that a 'statutory nuisance' is occurring, or is likely to occur or recur. This will result in an enforcement notice being served. If the person responsible for the noise allows it to continue after a notice is served, we will consider prosecuting that individual for non-compliance with the requirements of the notice.

Initially you will be asked to complete a noise diary for 2 weeks, logging all the incidents you felt disturbed by, noting dates and times and describing how the noise interfered with you life. A Noise Complaint Record Form can be download here. 

If your complaint is about a neighbour who is a tenant of a social housing provider such as Bron Afon you should contact them directly to make your complaint. 

If we can't help 

If we can't take action on your behalf it may be because we are unable to witness the noise. In this case you can take your own legal action by complaining to the Magistrates' Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It is not necessary to employ a solicitor and we will be able to give you written guidance on this procedure. 

What we can’t do anything about 

The Public Health Section cannot do anything about fireworks, banging doors, domestic disputes, foul language, children playing or intermittent noise from people running upstairs etc. There is a very large grey area about what amount of noise is acceptable or not, it is mainly due to this that many problems occur. Remember that no home is completely soundproof; everyone can expect a certain amount of noise from neighbours.

We are unable to investigate anonymous noise complaints.

Useful Links

Here are some related links that you may find useful

noiseactionweek.org.uk
For the latest news and resources on Noise Action Week 

Environmental Protection UK
Environmental Protection UK is the only independent interdisciplinary group currently working on noise. The EPUKs' expert committee works on noise policy and enforcement issues at the same time as co-ordinating Noise Action Day and publishing public information and educational material on noise issues. 

British Tinnitus Association
Tinnitus is the symptom of noises heard in the head and/or ears with no external source. The British Tinnitus Association can give free information and advice on all aspects of tinnitus. 

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People provides information and help with issues surrounding deafness. They also provide advice regarding protecting your hearing from noise. 

Noise Pollution Clearing House
The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse is a national non-profit organisation with extensive online noise related resources.

Last Modified: 21/09/2017
For more information contact:

Public Health

Tel: 01633 647622

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