What you consider to be ‘music’ your neighbours may find to be an unbearable cacophony; revving your car may show off its new engine, but for the new parents down the road it’s another sleepless night getting the baby back to sleep. A failure to consider your neighbours, whether you are at home or running your business, can result in a complaint being made against you, at which point you may receive a noise abatement notice.
Noise abatement notices are issued by local councils following an investigation into complaints about issues that may be considered a ‘statutory nuisance’. When a council agrees that a statutory nuisance is happening, has happened or will happen, they can serve an abatement notice to those responsible.
What is a statutory nuisance?
A statutory nuisance is something that, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990;
- Interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
- Damages health or is likely to damage health
Examples include: smoke, bad smells, light pollution (such as artificial lights), pests or vermin and, noise pollution.
What is noise pollution?
The types of noise pollution that councils are responsible for dealing with include;
- Barking dogs
- Car alarms or intruder alarms
- Construction noise
- Loud music
- Noise from vehicles
- Noise from machinery or equipment
Whilst noise abatement notices can be issued for excessive noise at any time of day, particular attention is given to noise that takes place during official ‘night-time’ hours, which, according to most councils, is between 11pm and 7am.
My council has served me a noise abatement notice – what do I do?
If you have been served a noise abatement notice it means somebody has complained about noise that you are making or that is coming from your premises. Normally there will have been some dialogue or interaction with the complainant before the notice is issued, however this is not always the case and you may find you have been issued a notice without any prior warning.
To avoid further action, the first thing you should do is reduce the noise levels or stop making the noise altogether.
You may think ignoring the notice will make it go away but if you choose not to comply with an abatement notice you face a hefty fine and even prosecution. It is a criminal offence not to abate the specific noise.
The penalties a council can carry out include:
- A fixed penalty notice (FPN), a fine – up to £110 - that must be paid within 14 and an alternative to prosecution
- Prosecution – if you do not pay your FPN on time or if the council opts not to issue you with one, you face prosecution and, if convicted, a fine of up to £1000
- Seizure or confiscation of the offending equipment
- Applying to the High Court for an injunction should prosecution be inadequate.
You should do your best to reduce the noise but if the local authority continues to deem it a statutory offence despite your best efforts, you may be able to make an appeal.
Making an appeal
From the day you receive your notice, you have 21 days in which to appeal to a magistrates’ court. It is advisable to consult a solicitor when making an appeal as this is a particularly technical and specialist area with specific statutory grounds of appeal. These grounds of appeal include;
- Legal tests show that the issue is not a statutory nuisance
- The notice being served incorrectly and/or to the wrong person
- The notice is in any way defective
- You have used the most feasible means to stop/reduce the nuisance
Receiving a noise abatement notice can be worrying and the prospects of a large fine or prosecution can cause great distress. Luckily, our lawyers at Duncan Lewis Solicitors have in-depth knowledge of statutory nuisance and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and can assist you in defending and appealing a noise abatement notice.
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