The Investigation

Making a Complaint
The Environmental Protection Team will encourage you to speak to your neighbour directly when problems arise to avoid placing a strain on the relationship between yourself and your neighbours. However some people may feel unable to adopt this course of action or may have already tried and been unsuccessful.

Anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated.

Investigating the Complaint
In response to your complaint an officer from the Environmental Protection Team will usually wish to discuss your complaint with you before taking action. You can normally expect a telephone call within three working days.

The officer will explain what action is to be taken. This usually involves an informal approach in the first instance by contacting the person or persons you have complained about and making them aware of the problem. You will be asked to keep a log of incidents of noise disturbance including a description of the noise, the date and times, where you were affected (bedroom, living room, garden etc) and how the noise affected you (could hear the words of the songs, had to turn the TV up, could not get to sleep etc).

Where a noise diary sheet is provided it must be completed and returned to the Investigating Officer before any further action is taken.

In the majority of cases experience has shown that informal action tends to resolve most problems.

Should informal action prove unsuccessful in providing a remedy then a more formal approach may be instigated. This may involve the use of noise recording equipment which would be installed inside your home. This equipment is only used to record incidents of noise which are considered likely to be causing a nuisance. It will not be used for any other purpose. Alternatively, we may try to witness recurrent out of hours problems by way of pre-planned out-of-hours visits. The investigating officer will decide on the best method of witnessing the noise.

There are some occasions where the Council is unable to take action, particularly if the noise nuisance cannot be substantiated, where the noise occurs intermittently or where it is judged not to be a statutory nuisance. If the Council decides that formal action cannot be taken you will be informed and given advice about taking action yourself if you wish to do so.

Where action is the responsibility of another agency your complaint will be referred to the appropriate authority and you will be advised accordingly, eg if the complaint is about aircraft noise we will refer it to the Military or Civil Aviation bodies.

Your name and address will not be given to the person being complained about, however your identity may be guessed or you may be approached and asked if you have made a complaint.

Any incidents of threatening behaviour, verbal or physical abuse should be reported to the police and the Councils Anti Social Behaviour Team.

Legal Action
Legal action will only be undertaken on the basis of evidence gathered directly by Council Officers

If the officer is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists a Noise Abatement Notice will be served on the person(s) causing the problem. The recipient of an Abatement Notice has 21 days to appeal the notice in the Magistrates' Court.
The success of any legal action will rely on the following evidence:
  • detailed evidence gathered by you in the form of diary sheets
  • contemporaneous notes and case file evidence compiled by the investigating officer
  • witness statements given by you
  • digitally recorded noise data and/or records from personal observations
  • witness statements given by other agencies (Police, Community Safety Wardens, Housing Officers etc).
Non-compliance with the terms of an abatement notice is a criminal offence, which upon summary conviction can result in a fine of up to £5,000 for domestic properties and £20,000 for trade and commercial premises.
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