What is Noise Nuisance?

A noise nuisance is simply an unwanted sound and can be categorised as either a Public Nuisance or a Private Nuisance.

A public nuisance is a criminal offence and is normally investigated and any appropriate enforcement actions is undertaken by a Local Authority.

Every local authority has a duty to inspect its area periodically to detect any statutory nuisances that should be dealt with. It also has a duty to take reasonable steps to investigate a complaint of statutory nuisance.

Statutory nuisance is defined as ‘an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land or some right over, or in connection with it’, and Local Authorities have powers to investigate under Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and subsection (1g) of the Act defines the noise as “noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.”

A private nuisance is a civil matter seeking an injunction and/or damages to restrain private nuisance and the claim is brought by any persons who have an interest in the land affected by the nuisance.

Private nuisance is defined as an “unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of land” and any ‘interested’ party can take civil action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990).

Factors to be considered in determining potential nuisance:

  • Duration – noise event or events lasting long enough to justify the Local Authority taking action on the plaintiff’s behalf
  • Frequency – events have to occur with a frequency that allow an investigation and can justify the Local Authority taking action on the plaintiff’s behalf
  • Impact – causing a material interference with the normal use of property or personal well-being; actually or likely to be adverse to health. This relies on the concept of the average person, and is not designed to take account of unusual sensibilities.
  • Local Environment – ambient environmental conditions.
  • Motive – avoidable events, unreasonable behaviour, deliberate targeted acts.

The primary tools used in taking action against a nuisance is the service of an Abatement Notice and a Local Authority can, if satisfied of the occurrence or likely occurrence of a statutory nuisance, sever an Abatement Notice under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act.

Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act provides for an even simpler process under the direct control of the person affected (i.e. not the Local Authority).

AAC have extensive experience of undertaking assessment of noise nuisance including 12 years working in Environmental Health investigating nuisance and where appropriate taking enforcement action. AAC have also developed significant private sector experience including helping clients who are both experiencing noise nuisance but also client who received complaints and either want assistance in identifying and remediating noise or who consider the complaint to be unreasonable.

If have any specific questions you would like to ask please get in touch at info@airandacoustics.co.uk