What is a noise nuisance?
Statutory nuisance is defined by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
In the UK there is no absolute right to silence within your home. Although you may be unhappy with the level of noise you are exposed to, if it does not amount to a statutory nuisance you may have to ignore it.
A statutory noise nuisance is more than where the noise is just annoying. It needs to unreasonably interfere with the use or enjoyment of your property. The noise must occur regularly and continue for a period of time that makes it unreasonable.
There's nothing in the legislation that says that a certain type, volume or time of noise will amount to a statutory nuisance. Each case is considered on its own merits.
Many factors are taken into account in determining if the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, including:
- Location - Is the noise typical for the area in which it occurs? A cockerel crowing in the countryside would be more accepted than in a quiet residential estate.
- Time of day - A statutory nuisance can exist at anytime of the day. If the noise happens late at night when most people are sleeping, however, it's more likely to be classed as a statutory nuisance than the same noise occurring during the day.
- Occurrence - How frequently are people being affected by the noise? Noisy parties every weekend would be viewed differently to one held occasionally.
- Duration - How long does the disturbance last? A dog barking at the postman for a short while in the morning would be viewed differently to one barking most of the day or night.
- Intensity - How loud or how intrusive is the noise ? In determining nuisance we look at how the noise would affect an ordinary individual, not someone who has a particular sensitivity to the noise or an individual that works unusual shift patterns. A typical example is night workers who sleep during the day.
Noise from construction sites
Construction sites are often near existing residential accommodation and whilst residents will in general accept construction site noise , complaints can arise from noisy activities starting early or finishing late or taking place on Saturday afternoon, Sundays or bank holidays.
The following guidelines should be adopted to minimize noise on construction sites:
- The noisiest works (such as pile driving and concrete breaking) should be limited to more acceptable times of the day. Where disturbance is unavoidable, local residents should be given reasonable advance notice of such works
- All plant and equipment used on site should be properly maintained and silenced where practicable. Developers must demonstrate that they use best practicable means to keep noise to a minimum
- Methods of works are available that minimise noise affecting neighbours, such as partial screening of noisy activities or sitting of works away from noise sensitive premises
- Generally, where residential occupiers can be disturbed, the following working hours should be adopted: 0700 to 1800 hours Monday to Friday and 0800 to 1300 hours on Saturdays with no noisy construction work Sundays or public holidays