Noise from neighbours is a common source of nuisance. The main
problems are barking dogs, loud music or TV, shouting, banging
doors and DIY activities.
What Can You Do?
First, approach your neighbour and explain politely that you
are being troubled by noise.
Action by the Council
If the problem persists, contact your local Environmental
Health Department for advice. Under Section 80 of the Environmental
Protection Act 1990, they must take "all reasonable steps"
to investigate your complaint.
If the problem seems to be inadequate sound insulation, there
are DIY measures that can help.
Night Time Noise Offence
The Noise Act 1996 gave local authorities the option to impose
further restrictions on night time noise in their area.
Taking Your Own Action
Complaining direct to the Magistrates' Court under section 82
of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This is quite simple
and need not cost much; you do need to employ a solicitor, but
is advisable to obtain some legal advice.
Anti Social Behaviour
Under the Housing Act 1996 social landlords can take action against
tenants for anti social behaviour. The
Crime and Disorder Act 1998 gives councils the power to issue
an anti-social behaviour order to anyone causing 'harrassment,
alarm or distress'. Disobeying an order carries a prison sentence
of up to five years
Environment Agency Web site
Defra Web site
It might be the traffic, airplanes
in their way to Heathrow or barking dogs, but above all those
inconsiderate neighbours. The fact is that over half of the homes
in the UK are thought to be exposed to noise levels exceeding
the World Health Organization's recommended daytime level of 55
The Noise Action Day, last June
4th, co-ordinated by the environmental protection charity, NSCA
(National Society for Clean Air), provided an opportunity to promote
practical solutions to everyday neighbour noise problems, to promote
communication and consideration between neighbours, and to educate
and inform both noise makers and noise sufferers about noise reduction.
It was also addressed to local
authorities and mediation services to inform the public of services
available. NSCA Secretary General Richard Mills commented: "Although
the responsibility for noise enforcement lies with local authorities,
more people still complain to the police about neighbour noise.
NSCA believes that this points up the need for better promotion
of noise services, and improved channels of communication between
Police and LAs".
According to a new survey by NSCA, local authority noise enforcement
officers want the police to be involved in tackling late night
noise problems. The survey also reveals that front-line officers
are ambivalent about the new powers proposed in the Anti Social
Behaviour Bill, currently progressing through Parliament.
Mr Mills said: "Our survey shows noise complaints are generally
still on the increase. If we are to tackle the growing problem,
local noise enforcement officers will need police help, particularly
late at night, to enforce the new legislation safely and effectively."
NSCA's national Noise Committee monitors the state of noise enforcement
in an annual survey. This year's results confirm that the major
sources of noise complaint are amplified music, closely followed
by barking dogs. Local authority noise specialists blame a high
expectation of quiet and incompatible lifestyles and selfish attitudes
for the continued problems, and advocate better education on noise
expectation and noise problems as the best solution.
Urban Quality of Life Minister Alun Michael said:
"Many people's lives are blighted by ambient noise, mainly
background noise from transport and industry, but noise from inconsiderate
neighbours, particularly in urban communities, continues to be
a main concern.
"Defra is mapping ambient noise across the whole of England.
This project will provide a valuable baseline which will help
Government devise strategies to reduce background noise where
its impact is worst.
"In parallel, we are developing a Neighbour Noise Strategy
to try to tackle the roots of a problem which dominates the lives
of an unfortunate minority who find themselves living near selfish
and inconsiderate people."
Mary Stevens, NSCA's Noise Action Day co-ordinator, said: "Neighbour
noise causes misery for many - on Noise Action Day we support
noise control services across England in promoting simple, practical
solutions to noise and raising awareness of the services available."