We can take action on noise coming from the following sources:
- Industrial and commercial premises
- Intruder alarms
- Car alarms
- Noise from construction sites
- Anti-social behaviour
If your complaint is about shouting or arguing in the street or fireworks you will need to contact Northamptonshire Police.
Noise caused by ambulance/police sirens, children playing and day to day activities such as flushing toilets, lawn mowing and vacuuming at reasonable hours are not actionable by any authority.
If we receive a complaint of a misfiring car alarm we will make reasonable attempts to find the person responsible for the vehicle, including making enquiries of the police.
While enquiries are being made, a notice will be fixed to the vehicle and, if the responsible person cannot be found within one hour, we can authorise work to stop the nuisance. This will mean either entry to the vehicle to silence the alarm, or the removal of the vehicle to a secure location.
If we take the above action then the keeper of the vehicle will be responsible for all expenses reasonably incurred in carrying out the work. This can be several hundred pounds.
A person who removes or interferes with a notice fixed to the vehicle shall be guilty of an offence unless permission has been given by the keeper of the vehicle.
Audible intruder alarms are widely used to protect property from unauthorised entry. Burglar alarms that are sounding should be reported to the police so that evidence of criminal activity can be investigated.
Alarm systems should stop sounding after 20 minutes. However when alarms do not turn off or sound on and off repeatedly, where there is no evidence of a break in, it is likely that we will receive complaints.
If an alarm system is reported as causing a noise nuisance, we will try to contact a keyholder so that the problem can be resolved quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
If we are satisfied that an alarm is causing a noise nuisance and we are unable to contact a keyholder within a reasonable period of time to silence the alarm, then formal action will be taken to stop the nuisance.
An abatement notice requiring the alarm to be silenced will be served on the occupier and an electrical engineer will also be called to silence the alarm box.
The occupier will be responsible for paying all costs reasonably incurred in stopping the nuisance. This can be several hundred pounds.
The sources of noise giving rise to complaints from local residents vary considerably, but can include music, singing, public address system, large screen televisions or video displays, plant and machinery, deliveries, car parks and pub gardens.
The majority of complaints however, come as a result of music being audible in nearby or adjoining noise sensitive premises.
We can take action as with neighbour noise. However in extreme circumstances we may call for the premises licence to be reviewed.
This could result in
- opening hours being reduced
- entertainment being removed from the licence or
- conditions being imposed to control the breakout of music
Environmental Protection are consulted with new premises licence applications, licence variation applications and temporary event notice applications. Many of these applications do not cause concern; however when the applicant applies for music, particularly at night and for live music (where there is little volume control) we must weigh up the risk to local residents. If we decide to object to the application then a hearing is held in front of the licensing sub committee for their decision.
A certain amount of noise is expected in most types of construction work which can rarely be completely prevented.
However, noise from construction sites can be very disturbing. If necessary we can serve a notice imposing requirements as to how construction works should be carried out so as to minimise noise and disturbance. Failure to comply with the requirements of a notice can lead to a fine of up to £20,000.
Developers must also demonstrate that they use best practicable means to keep noise to a minimum. Operations outside of these hours may, however, be agreed by us if it can be demonstrated that the works cannot be carried out at any other time and that items of plant and equipment are operated and maintained so that their use causes the minimum amount of noise.
Sometimes, emergency works have to be undertaken eg a burst water main. In such circumstances the normal daytime hours of operation would not apply. The work would be undertaken as soon as possible, which if undertaken at night may cause some disturbance.
Also, works on main roads would normally be undertaken outside peak times in order to minimise traffic congestion. Therefore evening and night-time working may be permitted. Noise would however be kept to as low a level as reasonably practicable.
Getting consent for construction work
Contractors planning to undertake construction and demolition work can consult us before proceeding.
It is preferable that contractors apply for prior consent rather than face the prospect of a notice being served after they have commenced work, the effect of which may seriously interfere with their planned work programme.
A distinction needs to be made between noise from construction sites and noise from DIY activities in the home. The working hours imposed on building sites would not normally be applicable to home DIY jobs. This is because people can often only undertake DIY work in the evenings and at weekends. However, this does not give people permission to annoy neighbours at all hours of the day and night. We all have to be reasonable to live together.
Keeping noisy activities caused by DIY to reasonable hours will help minimise complaints. Sensible precautions can be taken to minimise complaints from neighbours.
It’s normal and natural for dogs to bark. But when barking happens a lot, or goes on for a long time, it can be annoying and upsetting for your neighbours.
If you need help contact an animal behaviourist who is an expert and can suggest ways to improve your dog's behaviour.
If you own a cockerel you must ensure that the crowing does not cause a legal nuisance. In considering whether a legal nuisance exists we consider a number of factors including:
- Nature of the area – cockerels have been part of the English countryside for generations and to some extent part of country life and its charm. This is not to say that nuisance cannot be caused in the country but an odd cockerel crowing in an isolated rural location is less likely to be considered a nuisance when compared to cockerels kept in a more built up residential environments such as towns and villages
- Time of day – It is more likely that the law will consider nuisance is being caused if your cockerel is crowing at unsocial hours eg night, early morning or late evening
- Duration - It is more likely that the law will consider nuisance is being caused if your cockerel is crowing for long periods. This is more likely with numbers of cockerels because the birds compete
Cockerels are not required for hens to lay eggs. Find out how to minimise cockerel noise.
Ice cream van chimes
During the longer, warmer months more and more ice-cream van noise seem to be present in our local communities and streets. Noise from ice-cream vans can be unwanted and intrusive.
In some specific instances, where ice-cream vans sound their chimes, this may result in a statutory nuisance. But more often than not, the ice-cream van will move around your area and chime in different locations - therefore, this could be less likely.
Under Section 62 within the Control of Pollution Act, 1974 action may be taken if ice-cream van chimes are sounding after 7:00pm, or before 12:00pm (Midday), or if they are sounded at anytime as to cause an annoyance. There is a code of practice which states it's an offence to sound chimes 'so as to cause annoyance'.
We can deal with complaints about commercial or industrial noise. In most circumstances we will require such noise to be dealt with.
We will need to identify the specific source of a noise and the options for reducing or eliminating it. We will work with businesses to try and find solutions informally in most cases. We will serve notices to back up our requirements where appropriate.
The motor sport industry is important to the economy locally. We work with the circuits to deal with issues such as public address systems. They have their own regulations to deal with engine noise. Sometimes it is just a matter of knowing when it may happen, so it may be useful to check upcoming events on their websites:
- Silverstone Racing Circuit
- Northampton International Raceway (Brafield Stadium)
- Whilton Mill Karting
Off-road motor cycle sport
There are a number of venues across the district that are used for off-road motor cycle sports. There is a code of practice with respect to "Noise from off-road motor cycle sports" which states that use of a site for motor cycling events may, in some circumstances, require specific planning permission. For example if land is used for more than 14 days in a year for the purpose of racing.
It is also suggested that a site be used for not more than 10 days per year with at least four weeks between events. In noise sensitive areas, the event should be limited to a single day. A slightly longer day is preferable to a two-day event.
Bird scarers and bird deterrents are essential to protect many crops from damage by wild birds. However if used thoughtlessly they can seriously annoy and disturb the public.
The National Farmers Union have produced a code of practice for the use of bird deterrents and scarers. This includes information on how to avoid causing a nuisance.