Noise pollution

How you can make a complaint

Complaints can be made in person, by telephone, letter or through your local Ward Councillor, and should be made to the Environmental Health Division at Daneshill House in Stevenage. You can also make a complaint using the online form.

When making a complaint you will need to tell us:

  • Your name and address and, where possible, your telephone number.
  • The address, or site, where the noise is coming from.
  • The type of noise - e.g. barking dogs, loud music.
  • When the noise happens.
  • How long the noise lasts for (this can be done by keeping a written record of when you hear the noise).
  • The effect that the noise has on you (e.g. not being able to sleep).
  • Anything that you have done to try and deal with the problem, for example talking to the person who is making the noise.

We do not tell the person that you have complained about who has contacted us, although sometimes they may guess and ask you if it was you. If a case comes to court then you may be asked to appear as a witness.

Please note that we are unable to follow up complaints where the caller will not give their name and address.

What if the noise is occurring outside of office hours?

The council does not, currently, operate a noise service outside of office hours. If you have already reported the problem to us, please record the incident on the noise diary which we sent to you and contact your case officer on the next working day. If this is the first time you have experienced a problem from this property, please make a note of the noise on the incident log sheet and contact the Environmental Health Team on the next working day to discuss how we can help.

The Police may be able to assist If the noise is occurring in the street or is associated with antisocial behaviour.

What we will do

A letter will be sent to you within 4 days of you making a complaint. An incident log sheet will be enclosed with this, which we will ask you to complete. You will need to do this for 14 days and then send it back to us. Alternatively you can download a copy of the incident log sheet available on the right.

We ask you to keep this noise incident log sheet because:

  • It helps us to work out whether the noise is likely to be a “statutory nuisance”
  • It will help us to find out the times when an Officer is most likely to hear the noise
  • The incident log sheet can be used in court.

After 28 days, if we have not received your incident log sheet back, we will assume that you have managed to sort out the problem yourself, and we will not take any other action.

If your complaint is linked to another agency - for example the Civil Aviation Authority for aircraft noise - we will pass your complaint on to them and let you know who to contact.

If your diary sheet suggests that the noise is unreasonable, our Officer will write to the person that you have complained about to let them know that we have received a complaint and ask them to co-operate in keeping the noise levels down. Your name will not be mentioned. You will also receive a letter from us telling you what will happen next.

It is important that you continue to keep your incident log sheet as if there are more problems they can be used in any legal action we may need to take.

If the noise continues after we have written, we will need to witness the noise to decide whether it is a statutory nuisance.

In many cases we will be able to witness the noise ourselves, but if the noise doesn’t go on for very long on each occasion, is unpredictable in its frequency of occurrence, occurs outside office hours, or is otherwise proving difficult for an officer to witness, we may use recording equipment instead. If recording equipment is used, we will require the complainant to provide a witness statement to support our investigation before we can take legal action.

Once the council is sure that a statutory nuisance exists, a Noise Abatement Notice will be sent to the person/s causing the problem. Sometimes this means that they will be given a certain amount of time to carry out work that is needed to stop the noise from being a problem.

After a Noise Abatement Notice has been served, it is a criminal offence not to obey it, and the person can be taken to court.

We aim to look at your complaint within two months, after which we can decide what action needs to be taken. Whilst many complaints will be sorted out within this time, there are others - especially those where there isn't a pattern to the noise - which may take longer.

The Officer who is dealing with your complaint will keep in contact with you to let you know what is happening.

Sometimes we are not able to take action - again this can be in situations where we have not been able to hear the noise or where the noise is not loud enough for us to legally do anything to stop it. If this is the case then we will let you know.

When is noise nuisance a statutory nuisance?

Noise nuisance is covered by Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This law empowers local authorities to deal with noise from fixed premises and from vehicles, machinery and equipment on the highway. Before action can be taken we have to be sure that the noise constitutes a statutory nuisance. This means that we have to prove that the noise is prejudicial to health and/or is causing an unreasonable and persistent disturbance to your lifestyle.

We will take into account the time that the noise occurs, how long it goes on for, how often it happens and, of course, how loud it is. There is no fixed level of noise which the law says is a statutory nuisance and so, whilst some noises may be irritating, we cannot always take action to stop them.

For further information please contact the Environmental Health division.

Download

Incident Log Sheet

Online

Complaints form

Useful links

Environment Protection Act 1990

Civil Aviation Authority

Stevenage Borough Council is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Related pages

Local Councillors

Contact details

Environmental Health
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House
Danestrete
Stevenage
Herts
SG1 1HN

01438 242908 / 242916
env.health@stevenage.gov.uk