We have a duty to investigate complaints of alleged noise nuisance and take action where appropriate in accordance with noise enforcement policy.
Noise becomes a nuisance when it is loud, persistent, frequent or repetitive and if it affects a person’s lifestyle or prevents sleep.
What to do if you are disturbed by noise?
- You should in the first instance tactfully approach the person or business causing the noise and explain the situation. Most complaints can be resolved informally. If you don't want to speak to your neighbour, why not consider writing a letter?
- If you and the person who is creating the nuisance both live in properties owned by a housing association, please contact them and follow their noise complaints process.
- If you've tried the above but the noise issue has not improved, you can report it to us or contact us to make a complaint. You will need to provide us with: your name and address, details of the noise, when and how long the noise occurs, how the noise affects you and anything done to try and deal with the problem.
Keep a record of the nuisance by downloading a diary sheet as this will help us to investigate at a later stage if the issue is not resolved. Subject to the evidence provided, you may then be required to download the Noise app on your smart phone via your app store to keep track. We can only accept recordings if the investigation requires the Noise app and you will have been notified to use the Noise app.
Types of noise problems
Dogs, by nature, make noise. Before contacting the council about a noisy animal, you should talk to your neighbour first, explaining how the noise is affecting you. Those who keep animals are usually very conscious about their animals and the noise they make.
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 dogs welfare please contact the RSPCA for further advice and guidance.
Animals, by nature, make noise, from dogs barking to farmyard animals. 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 seagulls, wild animals and birds.
For further advise regarding seagulls see the RSPCA webpage where there is a whole section dedicated to gulls. If you are concerned about any animals welfare please contact the RSPCA for further advice and guidance.
There is no specific national legislation on the use of bird scarers and an individual householder is also able to take their own action in respect of a noise nuisance. However we have a duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to take action against a person who creates a noise nuisance. Failure to comply with a notice served under that Act may result in a prosecution, and the possibility of a heavy fine.
Visit the NFU website for information on bird scarers code of conduct.
In some ways the countryside can be noisier than towns. If you've moved to the country, be tolerant of country noises as they are part of its charm. If there are any noise issues it is best to speak to your neighbour about the problem in a friendly way first. However, if the situation doesn't improve contact us.
Keeping a number of different cockerels on the same land can cause problems giving an increase in the noise for neighbours. Visit the Poultry Club of Great Britain website for guidelines on keeping cockerels.
There are occasions when your neighbour's security alarm may be sounding for a period of time when they’re not in. Should your neighbour's alarm sound whilst they’re out or on holiday, we would suggest you try to get a message to them via phone, text message or private messages on social media. Other neighbours may know them and be able to contact them if you can’t.
If this is not possible or you have done this and it hasn’t worked, you should contact us during office hours. An officer will investigate and take any action that is required to silence the alarm. If we can't reach a key holder, we have the power to issue a noise abatement notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and obtain a warrant to enter any land, premises or building to silence an alarm. The costs of this will be passed to the owner/occupier of the premises.
We can enter properties without force to silence alarms if all the following apply:
- We’ve taken reasonable steps to contact the key holder to silence the alarm
- The alarm has been going off constantly for 20 minutes or 1 hour intermittently
- The noise is likely to give people nearby reasonable cause for annoyance
We suggest that if you’re going on holiday, you inform your neighbour and leave them contact details of someone who can reset or turn off your alarm.
There is no time frame as to when a residential noise becomes a statutory nuisance. 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.
If the noise is a regular occurrence please see the information above on our web page advising you what action to take.
In the more serious cases, we can begin the prosecution process and if necessary, seize any equipment that has the potential to create noise.
Domestic noise can include shouting or slamming doors. 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.
Examples of what the Council cannot deal with as domestic nuisance:
- Noise from babies crying and/or children playing
- People arguing
- Occasional residential parties
- 'Normal' everyday living noise, e.g. noise from banging doors, noise from appliances, and gardening equipment
- Vehicle and road traffic noise on the road.
Examples of what the Council can deal with as domestic nuisance:
- Loud music and/or loud televisions (TVs)
- Construction and building works
- Regularly occurring intruder alarms
- Regular loud parties
- Persistent noise from barking dogs and/or other different specific types of animal.
If you believe this may be a domestic abuse related incident and you have a genuine fear for those inside the property, we advise you to contact the police on 999. Or, if you believe this may be an alleged harassment matter, contact the police on 101.
Most complaints from businesses (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 unacceptable.
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
Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a pub or club, but sometimes noise can become too much. A premises licence holder may have noise related conditions on their premises licence and our licensing team ensures 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.
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. Initially we would encourage you to contact the event organiser if you feel it is safe to do so.
Those responsible for arranging events should consider the potential for noise at the planning stage. If you are holding an event which includes some licensable activities which are not covered by your Premises Licence then you need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 limits the use of fireworks in England and Wales. These regulations prohibit anyone under the age of 18 possessing fireworks in a public place, except professionals from possessing display fireworks. As well as any fireworks that detonate at a higher level of 120 dB and the use of air bombs with strict control on mini-rockets. These regulations prohibit the use of fireworks at night which is set between 11pm and 7am. There are exceptions to this rule which include the following extensions for the following dates:
- Until 1am following the first day of Chinese New Year
- Until midnight on 5 November (Bonfire Night)
- Until 1am on the day following Diwali
- Until 1am on the day following 31 December
The time limits imposed by the Fireworks Regulations are enforced by the Police. If the fireworks are being let off in the street or outside these permitted times. You can contact the police by using the 101 number for non-emergency calls.
If the fireworks appear to be too loud or sold outside the permitted times to underage persons contact Trading Standards
Usually, 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 if someone is persistently letting off fireworks of their property during permitted times and you feel it is causing you a nuisance contact us.
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.
How to avoid causing a risk of a nuisance to my neighbours?
Be considerate. Tell your neighbours before use
Use appropriate fireworks and try to avoid buying noisy ones if using in sensitive locations. Ensure pets and other animals are safe and away from fireworks.
If using fireworks for a celebration, Friday or Saturday is typically preferable and you must ensure they are over by 11:00pm. Avoid using fireworks in unsuitable weather.
Let off your fireworks in an open space area. Noise can bounce off buildings if in an enclosed place smoke and air pollution can build up.
After your display clear any firework fallout or waste and dispose of this safely.
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 unacceptable hours of the day and night, or for the work to simply go on and on.
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 two weeks) project, download our DIY info sheet .
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 Monday to Friday you only carry out noisy work between 9am and 7pm and try to ensure that noisy works are undertaken in the middle of this time period. Unless you have spoken to and got agreement with your neighbours. At weekends, the earlier you start work the more likely you are to annoy your neighbours. On Saturdays you should carry out activities from 9 am-5pm and on Sundays and bank holidays from 10am-2pm.
If you need to carry out noisy work outside these hours, speak to your neighbours and come to an agreement about when the work can be carried out.
If a neighbour has children or other special requirements, take these in to account when deciding on the times you want to work and discuss this with them. You should also invite them to knock on the door to let you know if the noise is causing them a problem.
Noise from vehicles
Noise from a vehicle, such as a car, can be classed as a statutory nuisance if it is a regular occurrence and from the same stationary vehicle on an individual's premises.
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 or 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.
You can also contact Cumbria police on 101 to report this as nuisance behaviour.
Noise from transport
Typically, we cannot take action in dealing with noise from road traffic and such matters are dealt with through traffic management and planning.
Aircraft noise is exempt from statutory noise nuisance and we cannot take direct action to deal with noise from aircraft.
Usually we cannot take action against noise from railway vehicles. If you think that noise levels are affecting your health, contact us and an officer will investigate on your behalf. Before contacting us see further details from Network Rail .
For further information on noise from roads, trains or planes go to the Government's noise from roads, trains or planes page .
Construction or demolition sites
Much of the plant, machinery and methods of work used in construction and demolition are generally very noisy and may create 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 8am and 6pm from Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. No noisy works should be carried out on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Within these hours, there is an expectation under 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 times 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.
For further details about roadworks in your area, contact Cumbria County Council as the highways authority.
Works carried out by utility companies
For works carried out by utility companies, contact the relevant company if you have any enquiries or complaints.
If there is a problem with noise from a wind turbine, it is likely to be either because:
- There has been a breach of a noise related planning condition on the planning consent for the turbine, or
- The turbine is affected by a mechanical or operational problem.
In the first instance, you should contact the owner of the turbine. This will allow the owner to check that it is operating correctly and is not suffering from wear to mechanical components. Should problems persist, you should contact planning enforcement.
The legislation for loudspeakers are under Section 62 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. There are some exceptions to the controls in situations that a Loudspeaker can be used for particular services. Under Control of Pollution Act 1974 no loudspeakers are allowed in any street after 9 PM to 8 AM.
Some areas of the borough, attract buskers this includes dance, performing music, or art to receive a financial contribution. A licence is not required but if raising money for a Charity please check if you require a charity collection permit.
Local byelaws under the Local Government Act 1972 may be in place in the area you are busking. Please contact us to confirm if the area you are performing is affected by local byelaws where you may be asked to stop by the Council or Police.
Complaints can occur if the duration, frequency and volume is excessive for local residents or businesses and cannot be a nuisance if you are walking past or shopping. A nuisance has to demonstrate an impact on the use or enjoyment of complainant’s property and therefore may be dealt under Statutory Nuisance provisions. Loudspeakers are regulated under the Control of Pollution Act 1974. Or given the nature of any possible anti-social behaviour experienced the Police can also be contacted by calling 101.
Antisocial Behaviour - what it is and how to report it - Cumbria Constabulary
Low frequency noises by their nature can be difficult to deal with under statutory nuisance provisions due to the low volume.
Often low frequency is associated with a rumble or hum and can be associated with electrical sources, heating systems, fans or machinery such as pumps.
On occasions such noise can be linked with tinnitus or due to people having a sensitivity to low frequency noise. While we endeavour to identify an external source of the noise, its reduction or identification can be very complex.
If the source can be identified then there is a probability the noise can be managed, however, in most instances, no sound can be detected that could account for such disruption.
Should you seek to identify where the noise is generated, it may be worth speaking to your neighbours if they can identify the noise in their homes also or outside? It may be worth testing your appliances by switching these on or off. Or alternatively if you are the only person who can identify the noise it may be worth seeking advice from an audiologist regarding your hearing.
In some occasions, it may be advisable to get professional advice from an Noise Consultant in regarding a particular application. This may help with a planning application or to avoid a legal Notice under nuisance provisions. To find a specialist, please see: Members’ Search | The Association of Noise Consultants (association-of-noise-consultants.co.uk).
What happens if monitoring shows a noise nuisance exists?
After gathering information a decision will be made on the best way to continue the investigation.
If the noise monitoring verifies that a noise nuisance exists we will write formally to the person causing the nuisance , or may serve a legal Abatement Notice requiring the noise nuisance to be stopped.
A list of Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notices served under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 are available at Allerdale House, Workington.