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Specific remedies

This content applies to England & Wales

Remedies available for certain specific sources of noise.

These remedies are available in addition to the other remedies given in this section.

Aircraft

Action cannot be taken against noise from aircraft on the basis that it is a statutory nuisance.[1] Instead, under the Civil Aviation Act 1982:

  • the Civil Aviation Authority, when exercising its licensing functions, takes account of environmental matters, including noise[2]
  • most civil airports are required to establish suitable consultation facilities with users, nearby local authorities and local representative organisations[3]
  • the Secretary of State has the power to require airport managers to offer insulation grants to occupiers of nearby properties affected by noise from the airport.[4]

A local council can make bye-laws relating to the control of noise at airports.[5] Some airports have direct responsibility for noise control and complaints.

The building or extension of an airport requires consent under the planning regulations. In dealing with the application for planning consent, the council will consult local householders and a public inquiry may be held. This gives local householders the opportunity to state formally any objections they may have about noise levels. This may be more effective when done through a residents' or tenants' association. (See the page on Noise due to the condition of the property for more information about planning regulations.)

Building sites

If work is taking place on a building site, or is due to take place, the council can serve a notice specifying:[6]

  • the level of noise which may be emitted from the premises or at any specified point on those premises, or during specified hours
  • the plant or machinery to be used
  • the hours when work can take place.

Complaints about noisy building sites should be made to the local council's environmental health department.

Burglar alarms

A council can use powers in the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 to specifically control burglar alarms.[7] Except in London,[8] these powers can only be used after consultation with the local chief police officer.[9]

The council can require that anyone who installs an alarm on any premises:

  • fits the alarm with a device that cuts off the alarm after 20 minutes
  • tells the council within 48 hours of its installation
  • notifies the police of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the current key-holders
  • informs the council of which police station has been so notified.

Failure to comply is an offence.[10]

If a burglar alarm goes off for more than an hour and it causes an annoyance to people in the vicinity, then the council can enter the property to turn it off.[11] However, the council officer must not use force to enter the property unless s/he has obtained a warrant to do so and is accompanied by a police officer. The council can recover the cost of silencing the alarm from the occupier of the property.

Action against car alarms can be taken by the local council under the Environment Protection Act 1990, as amended by the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993. For more information, see the page on Courses of action.

Entertainment venues

Places of entertainment, such as pubs, clubs, and music venues, require an entertainment licence from the local council to operate. This applies to both public venues[12] and private venues that are putting on entertainment for profit or gain.[13] A private venue that is putting on entertainment that is not for profit or gain may only be controlled by a council using its powers for general problems with noise (see the page on general problems with noise).

When considering an application for a licence, the council will consult with local people. If granted, a licence is valid for up to 12 months, after which time a new application must be considered. The licence may include terms about hours of operation and the maximum number of people allowed at the venue, but not specifically about noise.

Residents who are concerned about the possible impact of noise should nevertheless make their objections known to the council. Similarly, if problems of noise arise after the licence is granted, then residents should inform the council, as it may be that the terms of the licence have been breached in regard to hours of operation or the maximum number of people allowed at the venue.

Loudspeakers in the street

Loudspeakers cannot be played in the street:[14]

  • between 9pm and 8am, except by the emergency services or if consent has been given by the council[15]
  • at any time for business purposes, except by vehicles selling perishable foods (eg ice cream vans) which can use loudspeakers between 12pm and 7pm in a way that does not annoy people in the vicinity.

Complaints about loudspeakers in the street should be made to the local council's environmental health department.

Traffic

Generally, there is little that can be done about excessive noise caused by traffic. For example, councils cannot take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.[16]

If traffic is causing excessive noise on a new or improved road (but not an existing road) then occupiers living alongside the road may be eligible for a noise insulation grant. The grant may cover the cost of double glazing the part of the property that faces the road.[17]

Complaints about excessive noise from individual vehicles, eg noisy exhausts, or a horn being sounded between 11pm and 7am by a vehicle in a restricted road,[18] should be made to the police.

[1] s.79(6) Environmental Protection Act 1990.

[2] ss.5 and 6 Civil Aviation Act 1982.

[3] s.35 Civil Aviation Act 1982.

[4] s.79 Civil Aviation Act 1982.

[5] s.63 Airports Act 1986.

[6] s.60 Control of Pollution Act 1974.

[7] s.9 and Sch.3 Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.

[8] s.23 London Local Authorities Act 1991.

[9] s.9(1) Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.

[10] paras 3 and 4, Sch.3 Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.

[11] paras 6 and 7, Sch.3 Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.

[12] Part 1 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1982; in London s.52 and Sch.12 London Government Act 1963.

[13] Private Places of Entertainment (Licensing) Act 1967.

[14] s.62 Control of Pollution Act 1974.

[15] s.3A Control of Pollution Act 1974 and Sch.2 Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.

[16] s.79(6A)(a) Environmental Protection Act 1990.

[17] Part 2, Land Compensation Act 1973; Noise Insulation Regulations 1975 as amended.

[18] Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

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