Everyone's perception of noise nuisance is different. It's not just about sound levels in decibels but of what is acceptable. 'Noise' is generally considered to mean unwanted sound, but what one person considers unwanted may seem reasonable to someone else.
What is noise nuisance?
As an enforcing authority, we have to decide what's reasonable and what isn't, before we take action. We can help with:
- building and construction site noise (we recommend noisy work in residential areas is carried out Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm and Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
- DIY noise during antisocial hours
- burglar / car alarms
- deliveries at unreasonable hours
- nightclubs and pubs
- loud music / television
- kitchen extract / air conditioning units
- places of worship
- open air events
- street performers
What we do
We have a duty to investigate noise complaints from residents. The way we respond depends on the nature of the problem, the time that it happens and whether or not it's a first-time complaint or a recurring problem. If we're satisfied the noise is a nuisance, and it doesn't stop within 7 days, we'll usually serve a formal or statutory noise abatement notice to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
If you're served with an abatement notice and don't comply with it, or are making a severe, ongoing noise at night, we can use a warrant and seize your noise making equpiment.
We prioritise cases where large numbers of residents are affected - especially by persistent noise pollution.
Out of hours service
This service is available:
- Thursday, 6.30pm-2am
- Friday, 9pm-5am
- Saturday, 9pm-5am
- Sunday, 6.30pm-2am
If you have a problem during those hours, please call 020 8356 4455.
- your name
- telephone number
- details of where the noise is coming from
Types of noise
Noise from businesses
Businesses must be able to show they're using the best practicable means of preventing noise nuisance. If there's a potential noise problem, we may need to monitor the situation and determine if your work practices or the machinery you're using are adequate.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows us to serve a statutory nuisance abatement notice where we're satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur. A statutory nuisance abatement notice is a legal document that requires those responsible for the nuisance to abate it. Failure to comply with such a notice is a criminal offence.
We also investigate complaints about noise nuisance caused by vehicle movements (deliveries), music, noisy fans and air handling equipment.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Council expects that noise associated with regulated entertainment, which takes place between the hours of 11pm and 9am or which takes place on a frequent basis at any time, should be controlled to such a level that the noise will be inaudible at all times inside noise-sensitive properties in the vicinity of the licensed premises.
Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, we can impose requirements as to what times noisy work may be carried out, and the methods of work used.
In Hackney these times are:
- Monday to Friday - 8am-6pm
- Saturday - 8am-1pm
- Sundays and Bank Holidays - no working
In certain cases, we may grant permission for work outside these hours, such as emergencies, erecting special cranes or police traffic restrictions.
Construction noise can include noise from demolition and refurbishment as well as building works. Legally speaking, noise normally includes vibration.
We recommend that noisy DIY be carried out:
- Monday-Friday 8am-6pm (until 8pm if done after work)
- Saturdays 8am-6pm
If you're working in the evening, we advise that noisy work be done at the start of the evening. Work that is not audible outside the premises can continue beyond the recommended hours.
We will investigate allegations of work being carried out outside of recommended hours and can serve an abatement notice under the provisions of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to restrict the hours of noisy works.
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 prohibits the use of fireworks between the hours of 11pm-7am with these exceptions:
- until midnight on 5 November (Bonfire Night)
- until 1am following the first day of Chinese New Year
- until 1am on the day following Diwali day
- until 1am on the day following 31 December (New Year's Eve)
A party can be an enjoyable celebration, or it can be a serious nuisance to the whole neighbourhood. Nobody objects if a party is well-organised and well-run.
However, if you are seriously affected by a noisy party we may be able to help. Officers will usually visit your premises in order to assess the level of noise. If they feel that the noise is a nuisance in the first instance they will visit the premises where the party is taking place and request that the music is turned down. Usually this informal approach works well as party organisers are sometimes unaware of the amount of noise that is being made.
If the organiser fails to turn down the music we may serve an abatement notice.
What you can do
If possible discuss the problem with the person or organisation making the noise. Often they can stop or reduce the impact of the noise.
Problems can often be quickly resolved by talking to your neighbour, explaining how their actions are impacting on you and agreeing to a compromise that is an acceptable solution for all. People are often unaware that they're causing a problem and most will be glad to take action to reduce the disturbance. If you don't think it's safe or appropriate to approach the person making the noise, please contact us for further advice.
If the problems persists, we'll normally ask you to complete diary sheets so we can look in depth at the times and extent of the problem. Certain types of noise are difficult for us to assess so we may ask you to contact us while the problem is happening. If an officer is available, and considers there to be a potential problem, they will try to make a visit.
You can also complain directly to the Magistrate's Court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Magistrate's Court can make a nuisance order and it can impose a fine.
Noise we can't deal with
Please note that we have no jurisdiction in respect of noise from aircraft or trains. For train and railway noise, contact the Network Rail Helpline on 0845 711414.
If you are experiencing noise from any aircraft please contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), on 020 7453 6525.