If residents complain of noise nuisance from specific premises, a Local Authority representative (normally an Environmental Health Officer) must investigate the complaint. They are legally obliged to attend the site and decide whether the noise comprises a statutory nuisance. There are no numerical criteria for such a decision although noise measurements may be used to support a subjective assessment. If the EHO considers that a statutory nuisance has occurred or is likely to occur, the Local Authority is legally required to issue an abatement notice under Section 80 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act (as amended by the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993).
You will normally only have 28 days to appeal against a Section 80 notice, so it is a good idea immediately to consult a solicitor specialising in this kind of work to advise you whether or not to appeal. Unless an appeal is successful there is a legal requirement to comply with the conditions set out in the notice. Failure to comply is an offence under criminal law and substantial fines can be imposed. A notice is not usually lifted or withdrawn as continued compliance with the conditions of the notice is normally required to prevent a recurrence of nuisance.
If you, your business or your organisation have been served with a noise abatement notice, we can liaise with your solicitor and the local authority EHO and provide an independent noise assessment. If you have to reduce the noise level we can advise on design and mitigation measures. If you choose to appeal against the notice, we can provide an expert witness report and if necessary give evidence in court.
If you are faced with complaints about noise but have not yet been served with a Section 80 notice, we advise you to take action promptly; if you can avoid a notice being served this could save you a lot of time and money.
If you are a resident bothered by noise, in the first instance you should contact your local authority’s environmental health department. In some local authorities EHOs can be difficult to contact and many are not noise specialists, so if you are dissatisfied with the process we can assist in providing an independent noise assessment and liaising with the Local Authority to resolve the problem. In some cases, if we consider that there is a noise nuisance and the local authority will not act, we can advise on other legal remedies such as a Section 81 notice or an action under civil law, and we can put you in touch with solicitors with experience of this type of work. We have considerable experience of providing expert witness services for this type of work – see our expert witness page.