Noise can cause disruption and distress to everyone - at home, at leisure, at work and at study. There is no doubt that our capacity to make noise is increasing. National Research as shown that noise control officers across the UK think that incompatible life styles and high expectation of quiet are the reasons for more of the complaints they receive. Noise affects everyone's quality of life.
Everybody is urged to:
- Consider the noise they make and the effect on others
- Consider the noises that disturb them
- Use our 'Considerate Neighbour Rules' (under Related Documents) to prevent everyday noise problems
Bothered by noise?
Noise from neighbours can cause annoyance, lack of sleep, stress, and generally affect the quality of life. If you are experiencing problems with noise there are a number of options open to you.
- First and foremost – DO NOT RETALIATE . Two wrongs do not make a right as they say. Retaliation will only serve to increase tension between you and your neighbours. It will also complicate matters and may even jeopardise any court action even if you have a justified complaint. Another possibility is that counter complaints may be made about you.
- Often the best way forward is to discuss the problem with your neighbour. An investigation by the Council can lead to a serious breakdown in neighbour relations and may not always successfully stop the noise.
- Should talking with you neighbour not resolve the problem, or you feel unable to approach your neighbour, you could write to them. Click on the link under Related Documents for an example of a suitable letter.
- If neither your personal approach nor your letter resolves the problem, mediation may be a useful option to consider. It is a voluntary process in which trained mediators help you and your neighbour work together to reach a mutually acceptable solution. If you wish to use this service Somerset Mediation can be contacted on 01823 352210
- If you are unable to reach an amicable solution or you feel unable to approach the person responsible for the noise, the Environmental Health and Consumer Services Division may be able to help. If a Statutory Noise Nuisance is proved they will serve an abatement notice under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Recording your disturbance
To assist us you will be asked to keep a written record of the noise. It is very important that you complete the noise record sheets and fill them in accurately and fully. The following information is required:
- A description of the noise and how it affects you in your home or garden
- The dates the noise disturbs you
- The times the noise starts and then stops. To begin this procedure, you should contact the Environmental Health & Licensing Team on 01643 703704 . You will then be sent a noise pack, which contains the appropriate noise record sheets and an information leaflet.
The pack requires the completion of the noise record sheets over a period of 3 weeks. If the noise nuisance still exists after that period, the noise record forms should be returned to this office for analysis. If it appears from the records that a statutory nuisance is likely an investigation will be commenced. An Environmental Health Officer may then visit your home to assess the problem first hand or they may be able in install noise monitoring equipment.
If a statutory noise nuisance is proved an abatement notice will be served. This is enforced through the Magistrates Court. If the notice is not complied with and the problem continues, a fine of up to £5000 can be imposed. Further fines can be made for subsequent offences. In cases where the requirements of an abatement notice are not complied with, an application may be made to the Magistrates Court for a warrant to enter premises. In this instance, equipment and associated items may be seized and held pending the outcome of any prosecution.
If the Officer feels the noise does not constitute a statutory nuisance you will be told as soon a possible and the Environmental Health and Licensing Team will take no further action. You may feel you are still suffering from noise problems in which case you have every right to take private action through the Magistrates Court.
Some types of noise only occur very occasionally or at night. If it is not possible for an officer to substantiate the existence of the nuisance by witnessing it first hand or via independent and impartial means, it will not be possible to take any formal action on behalf of the complainant. Should this occur you can take independent action by complaining direct to the Magistrates Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This is quite simple and need not cost much. You do not have to employ a solicitor, but it is advisable to obtain some legal advice. For more information you can contact the Environmental Health and Licensing Team on 01643 703704.
Other points to consider
Council officers investigating allegations of noise nuisance sometimes find that neighbours have fallen out over another matter and that the complaints about noise are not really the main problem and may not actually be justified.
- If this is true in your case, then try and define and then sort out the underlying problem and you may find that the noise will sort itself out
- Trying to resolve the problem at an early stage is likely to lead to the best solution. An investigation by the Council, or formal legal action taken by you, will take some time to stop the noise
- If the case does result in an appearance in a Court of Law, then the fact that you have acted reasonably and tried to resolve the noise by talking to your neighbour in a civilised manner could count in your favour
Builders and Contractors
The Environmental Health Team have put together Considerate Contractor Advice for builders and contractors when working in the West Somerset area (found under Related Documents).
If you have any queries about noise nuisance in West Somerset, contact the Environmental Health & Licensing Team on 01643 703704 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the online form.
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