We investigate complaints relating to noise, light and air pollution for domestic and business premises.
The primary legislation we refer to is the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and we consider complaints to see whether or not they are causing a Statutory Nuisance. This cannot be easily defined, but could be described as an unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of your property. It must occur regularly and continue for a period of time that makes it unreasonable.
Please note that the following are unlikely to be a statutory nuisance:
- A one-off party
- Neighbours arguing
- A lawnmower used during the day
- A baby crying or dogs barking occasionally.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the council has no control over the following:
- Road traffic/revving engines on the public highway
- People shouting/laughing or screaming on a public road or footpath
- Air traffic noise
The Council does not have a 24 hour call out service for responding to Statutory Nuisance complaints. Should you be affected by nuisance issues outside of office hours they should be reported to Environmental Health the next working day, please note the Councils emergency phone line is not to be used in these cases. Breach of the peace, violence/fights and/or Anti Social Behaviour should be reported to the Police.
Complaints dealt with under Statutory Nuisance are subject to a standard procedure, which requires evidence gathering by the complainant and subsequent investigation by an officer from the pollution team. The investigating officer assesses every complaint individually and makes an unbiased decision on whether the nuisance is excessive, unreasonable and spoiling the enjoyment of your property.
There is not an absolute level of noise above which a Statutory Nuisance is automatically caused, and each case must be judged on its merits. We will take into consideration factors such as:
- The time of day - there are no specific times to when something can cause a nuisance
- Level of disturbance (for example volume of noise)
- The type of nuisance
- Whether there is societal acceptance (e.g. bonfire night or church bells)
- Is it affecting/spoiling the enjoyment of your property?
The pollution officer, not the complainant, makes the decision on whether disturbance could be classed as a Statutory Nuisance. Case law requires us to act as the ‘standard person’ when reaching this decision. Therefore, we cannot take into account those who have a different or higher expectation of peace. These include shift workers or people who are studying/ill.
Action can be taken when the officer is satisfied that the disturbance is a problem and that a Statutory Nuisance exists. An Abatement Notice can then be served on the person responsible for the nuisance. Failure to comply with the notice could lead to prosecution or seizure of equipment, if appropriate.