5. Types of noise nuisance

There is no time frame as to when a residential noise becomes a statutory nuisance. Some people believe they can play music and make noise until 11 pm. This isn’t true. A statutory nuisance is something that, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, affects a person’s health or causes disturbance to them in their property.

A one off party would not be classed as a statutory nuisance.

Often, people are not aware of the issue they may be causing and a friendly chat with them usually works.

Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a pub or club, but sometimes this becomes too much.

One of the four licensing objectives is the prevention of public nuisance. A premise license holder may have noise related conditions on their premises licence. We work with the Licensing Service to ensure these are met at all times.

Noise originating from pubs and clubs can be annoying to local residents if it is uncontrolled or exceeds what one could reasonably expect from an entertainment venue.

Whenever possible, if a new pub or club is opening, or an existing premises is undergoing refurbishment, we try to anticipate the likely noise problems. For existing premises, an officer will visit to assess the seriousness of the complaint and to establish the cause and any possible solutions. The owner or manager will then be informed of the situation and given advice on possible solutions. Wherever possible, improvements will be achieved by agreement. If this is not successful, the action considered necessary will be incorporated as requirements in a Statutory Notice and a possible review of the premises licence.

From time to time you are bound to hear your neighbours from within your property. The important thing here is what kind of noise can you hear? Is it one person, multiple people and is it at different times or at the same time?

We find the most effective way is for you to have a chat with your neighbour, explaining you can hear them.

If you believe this may be a domestic abuse related incident and you have a genuine fear for the person(s) inside the property, we advise you contact the Police on 999.

Most people have jobs which need doing around the home, especially if they have just moved in, or are redecorating. We also have to accept that many people have jobs during the day and need to do DIY work in the evenings and at weekends. However, this does not give them permission to annoy neighbours at all hours of the day and night or for the work to simply go on and on. We all have to be reasonable to live together.

DIY works are, in general, short lived small projects which would be expected to be undertaken by non-professionals.

If you are undertaking a large, long term (more than 2 weeks) project please see the advice regarding Construction noise.

If you are planning to carry out noisy DIY on your home, warn your neighbours well in advance and let them know:

  • What you are planning
  • How long you expect the work to continue
  • The times you will be doing the work (we recommend that you only carry out noisy work between 9 am and 8 pm and try to ensure that noisy works are undertaken in the middle of this time period)

If you need to carry out noisy work outside these hours, please speak to your neighbours and come to an agreement about when the work can be carried out.

If your neighbour has children or other special requirements please take these in to account when deciding on the times you want to work and discuss this with your neighbour.

Also invite your neighbours to knock on the door to let you know if the noise is causing them a problem (and be prepared to stop!)

To report an alarm please email envhealth@oldham.gov.uk.

You do not need to complete a noise nuisance diary to report an alarm.

All audible security alarms within a building should have cut off devices installed which silences the alarm after it has been sounding for 20 minutes.

It is advisable that house key holders’ names and contact details should be supplied to the Council so they can be contacted to isolate the alarm if it activated when the owners are away from the property.

If a keyholder for the premises cannot be found, Environmental Health officers can serve a notice requiring the alarm to be silenced and repaired. If necessary a warrant can be obtained from the Magistrates court to enter a premises with a locksmith and alarm engineer to rectify a fault and reset the alarm.

Any reasonable costs incurred by the Council can then be reclaimed from the person responsible for the property.

Join the alarm database

If you would like to be included in the Councils alarm database for keyholders please complete the registration form.

All details will be kept strictly confidential.

Fireworks regulations restrict the level of noise from fireworks to 120 decibels (dB). Trading Standards officers will check this limit through the manufacturers. The larger more powerful display fireworks are only allowed to be possessed by professionals; whereas it is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to be sold or possess any fireworks. Anyone caught throwing fireworks in the street can be fined under the Explosives Act 1875; which is enforced by the Police.

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 limit the use of fireworks at night in England and Wales (which is set as between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am). There are exceptions to this rule which include the following times:

  • Until 1 am following the first day of Chinese New Year
  • Until midnight on 5 November
  • Until 1 am on the day following Diwali
  • Until 1 am on the day following 31 December

The time limits imposed by the Fireworks Regulations are enforced by the Police. You can contact the Police using the 101 number for non-emergency calls. If they are unable to attend on the night they may be able to follow up your inquiry through a neighbourhood officer retrospectively.

In most cases statutory nuisance procedures will not be able to be used to tackle firework noise as, in most cases, the activity is transient and is carried out before the permitted hours. However, where commercial venues (particularly those carrying out functions) regularly set off fireworks they are more likely to fall within the scope of statutory nuisance (and sometimes licensing rules). The officer will take into account how regularly they cause disturbance. If they are a licensed premises or club they may also be subject to conditions and a limit could be placed on the number of displays taking place.

Noise from a vehicle such as a car can be classed as a statutory nuisance if it’s a regular occurrence and from the same vehicle.

We understand that from time to time ‘car clubs’ will meet in one area and can cause some level of noise, be that from their entertainment systems to their exhausts.

In the first instance we would advise you talk to the driver of the vehicle, if it is safe to do so and explain how the noise is affecting you.

If you have tried that and it hasn’t worked, make a note of the date and time, the vehicle details (including the registration number) and where possible a description of the driver.

Animals, by nature, make noise, from dogs barking to farmyard animals. Before contacting the council about a noisy animal, you should talk to your neighbour first, explaining how the noise is affecting you.

There are some animals that can cause a statutory nuisance and can be reported to the council such as dogs barking or cockerels and there are some that can’t be reported, such as wild animals/birds. Those who keep animals are usually very conscious about their animals and the noise they make. We advise you talk to you neighbour in the first instance.

If the noise nuisance is from a barking dog the Council cannot prevent a dog from barking – we can only work with the owner to reduce the noise. If this fails then we would consider further legal action but we would not remove the dog.

If you are concerned about any animals welfare please contact the RSPCA for further advice and guidance.

Common complaints from businesses such as shops, factories, warehouses etc. include noise from extractor fans, deliveries and collections. Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a commercial premises, but sometimes we acknowledge unreasonable noise levels may become intolerable.

If you are experiencing problems from commercial premises we advise that you contact the company causing the issue directly and allow you to reach a compromise between them running their business and your enjoyment of your property.

If an abatement notice for noise is served on industrial, trade or business premises and they’ve used the best practicable means to stop or reduce the noise, they may be able to use this as one of the following:

  • Grounds for appeal against the abatement notice
  • A defence, if prosecuted for not complying with the abatement notice

Much of the plant and machinery and methods of work used in construction and demolition are naturally very noisy and may give rise to vibration. Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a site where demolition or development is happening.

As a general rule, noisy works should only be undertaken between the hours of 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday, and 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. No noisy works should be carried out on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Within these hours, there is an expectation under this legislation that ‘best practicable means’ will be used to prevent nuisances occurring.

These times are for guidance only and it does not automatically mean that operating outside these time is illegal. In some cases, there may be a requirement to undertake certain works outside of these hours however, such works will require prior approval from the Council and will only be granted under exceptional circumstances.

Many outdoor events, particularly those held during the summer, involve noisy activities. These activities can include music, fireworks, fairgrounds and rides, public address systems or generators. Noise from these activities can therefore be a source of annoyance to local residents, and measures should be taken to minimise it.

Those responsible for arranging events should consider the potential for noise at the planning stage.

Initially please contact the event organiser if you feel it is safe to do so.

Generally works let or being carried out by us will be during the following hours:

  • Monday to Friday between 07.30 am and 6 pm
  • Saturday between 8 am and 3 pm
  • Sunday working is not generally permitted

Works outside of these hours are in agreement between the contractor & Highway authority or their representative. Advanced warning is given to effected parties (Businesses & residents) by way of letter & press release, this is generally 10 days prior to works. Night works are generally restricted to traffic sensitive areas (busy roads), primary routes.

Works carried out by utility companies

For works carried out by utility companies please contact the relevant company directly if you have any enquiries or complaints.