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Noise is defined as unwanted sound and it can originate from a
number of sources, such as amplified music, barking dogs,
machinery, construction and DIY activity, alarms and transport.
Note that some neighbour noises, such as from children, raised
voices, footsteps or doors being closed, cannot normally be
dealt with under the Act. Also, the council has no enforcement
powers to remedy complaints of noise caused by aircraft, road
traffic and trains.
The Environmental Protection team deals with a very large number
of noise complaints, the vast majority of which are dealt with
Should this not be possible, the council can take formal action.
There is no set level of noise which is too loud or that will
automatically result in action being taken by the council. There is
also no set time when music or any other sort of noisy activity
Find out more:
What noise the council has a
duty to inspect - How the council investigates
complaints - Medway Mediation -
Domestic noise - Noise
from barking dogs - Commercial noise -
Air handling units -
Noise from neighbours can be very irritating, annoying or at
worse, very disturbing. The majority of noise problems can be
resolved by talking to the person responsible, as they may not be
aware that their activities are causing disturbance.
Usually this action can help to resolve the matter amicably,
without the need for the council to become involved. If
talking to your neighbours does not help to resolve the issue or if
you would prefer to discuss your concerns with someone beforehand,
Medway Mediation may be able to help.
Medway Mediation is a free, independent service that makes use
of trained mediators to talk to you to find a solution to the
problem. The local mediation service is:
Phone: 01634 730
In some cases, Environmental Protection may decide not to take
further action. This may depend on the number of complaints
received or lack of substantial evidence of nuisance.
In such cases, you may wish to take your own private legal
action by complaining directly to the magistrates court under
Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The procedure
is fairly simple and need not cost much.
For further information use these advice notes (pdf 20KB).
You do not need to employ a solicitor but it may help to get
some legal advice. Free legal advice is available from the
Citizens Advice Bureau. You should remember that if you decide
to take your own action the council will not become involved in
your case and cannot be held responsible for the outcome.
Many local authority noise teams have reported an increase in
neighbour complaints and disputes arising from stripped-board,
laminate and wood block floors.
Noise from barking dogs
The constant barking or whining of a dog can also irritate and
disturb neighbours. Many owners do not realise that the problem is
occurring, as it usually only occurs when the dog owner has left
the dog alone in the property.
Like neighbourhood noise problems, disturbance from a barking
dog can usually be resolved by talking to the person responsible,
as they may not be aware of the situation. If talking to your
neighbours does not help to resolve the issue, Environmental
Protection may be able to help.
Car alarms can occasionally give rise to serious noise nuisance
due to faulty setting or false alarms. If an alarm sounds
continuously or intermittently to such an extent that a statutory
noise nuisance is caused and the keeper cannot be contacted within
a reasonable period of time, Environmental Protection may have no
option but to take formal action. This action can include the
service of a noise abatement notice and the silencing of the alarm
or removal of the vehicle at the owner’s expense.
How to avoid noise nuisance from a vehicle alarm
Noise nuisance from vehicle alarm can be prevented by:
- installing the alarm fully in accordance with manufacturer’s
- servicing the alarm regularly
- adjusting the sensitivity appropriately
- ensuring that the sunroof and windows are closed when the alarm
- ensuring that, where possible, the alarm’s cut-out device
limits the time the alarm sounds and prevents it
- ensuring the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has
up-to-date registered keeper information
Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same
way as that from domestic premises but the council may not
need to prove a statutory nuisance where the premises is covered
by a premises
licence. These licences are issued to ensure that any
disturbance caused to the general public is kept to a minimum.
Action can be taken against premises that operate outside the
conditions of the licence .
Air handling units
Poorly installed or maintained air handling units or ventilation
systems can be noisy or can create fume and odour problems. Often
simple maintenance by an engineer can improve the situation. The
Environmental Protection team can give advice on the design,
installation and position of these systems to prevent odour and
Noise from construction and demolition sites
There are no set hours during which construction or demolition
work can take place but it is normally expected that noisy
activities will not be undertaken at night, Sundays or bank
holidays. Work on construction sites often starts at 7am on
weekdays. Noise levels should be minimised as far as possible, and
plant should be fitted with silencing devices wherever practicable.
In some cases, developers or contractors may seek "prior approval"
under the Control of Pollution
Act 1974 for noise emissions. Conditions such
- hours of operation
- plant and equipment used
- methods of work and noise limits may then be placed on the
demolition or construction activity
a problem with noise