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        Noise nuisance

        Reporting a noise nuisance

        Please read the specific guidance below relating to the type of noise you wish to report before completing the online form.

        Too much noise can affect a person’s health and enjoyment. Thanet District Council’s Environmental Health Team have a duty to investigate noise nuisance complaints. Where we assess that a noise coming from a person or property is unreasonable and is causing a noise nuisance we have a duty to serve an abatement notice requiring the person to eliminate the ‘unwanted noise’. Failure to comply with the notice is likely to lead to a fine of up to £5000 and, or seizure of all noise making equipment and accessories (e.g. hi-fi’s and CD’s).

        House and commercial premises alarms

        Faulty burglar alarms can cause serious noise problems. If you have an alarm on your property, it is a good idea to follow this advice:

        • Make sure the alarm has a 20 minute cut off period.
        • Install the alarm as per instructions, or have it installed by a professional alarm company and make sure you get a maintenance agreement.
        • Test the alarm from time to time
        • Ensure neighbours know who to contact if the alarm goes off or leave a key with a preferred neighbour or business.

        Remember that if you are relying on your neighbours to react to the alarm when it goes off, make sure you do not annoy them with too many false alarms.

        How do I report a noisy alarm?

        If you are disturbed by a continually ringing alarm, the council can silence it.

        Before you call?

        • You must identify the property in which the alarm is sounding.
        • Check with the neighbours to see if they know the whereabouts of the occupants
        • Do you know where they work
        • Are they on holiday
        • Does anyone have a spare key or have a contact number for a family member.
        • Check to see if there is a number on the alarm box as sometimes the alarm company may have a service contract.

        A commercial property may have contact details displayed.

        If the owner cannot be contacted and the alarm continues to sound after 20 minutes then call Thanet District Council on 01843 577000 to report it.

        If this happens when the offices are closed, still call Thanet District Council and you will be given an alternative number to ring. Once the details have been received these will be passed to the Environmental Protection Team as soon as convenient.

        If a key holder cannot be contacted and the alarm continues then an officer will visit to establish whether the alarm is causing a statutory nuisance. If it is, an abatement notice will be served, officers will obtain a Magistrates Warrant to enter the premises and silence or re-set the alarm.

        This process can take some time to achieve depending on the time of day or night. Various experts will need to be contacted to attend and disarm the alarm and secure the property.

        If you are experiencing a noise nuisance from a burglar alarm then please contact a member of the Environmental Protection Team by;

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        Car alarms

        Car alarms can cause a serious noise problem. A typical situation is where a vehicle has been in a residential road or car park and the owner is absent, perhaps for several days.

        Once the Environmental Protection Team have been made aware of the problem we will attempt to find the owner or driver of the vehicle to advise them of the situation.

        An Officer will visit the site and assess whether the alarm is causing a statutory noise nuisance.

        If the alarm is judged to be causing a statutory noise nuisance the officer may silence the alarm or have the vehicle removed to a safe area. The owner will be charged for any costs incurred in stopping a nuisance.

        The council cannot take action against noise from car alarms in car parks (e.g. supermarkets) where each alarm only sounds for a few seconds.

        If you are disturbed by a car alarm which has been repeatedly sounding then please contact a member of Environmental Health by;

         

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        Commercial or industrial noise

        Sometimes people at work or at home are disturbed by noise or odour that originates from commercial or industrial premises. Examples are extraction flues, machinery noise, fan noises, vehicle movements, alarms and radios. Where these occur continuously or loudly, or when they are new noises, they can be very annoying.

        If you are disturbed by such a noise or odour, and are able to identify the source, try visiting the premises and speaking to the Manager. In many cases, they are not aware that there is a problem and are happy to try to resolve it.

        If you are unable to do this, or it is not successful, you can ask us to investigate.

        Be prepared to provide information about the nuisance caused.

        If you want us to investigate then please contact a member of Environmental Health by;

        What happens next?

        1. We will send you a letter confirming receipt of the complaint and enclosing a log sheet for you to keep a short but accurate record of the noise that you are experiencing.
          A letter will also be sent to the person causing the complaint advising them that we are currently dealing with a complaint.
        2. We will visit both you and the premises, and identify the cause of the problem.
          Sometimes resolving the problem is simple (for example, persuading the Manager to ban radios), but sometimes it is more difficult – for example where the noise is associated with the process itself. In these situations officers may take noise measurements at your property. We will give an opinion on how unreasonable, or not, the noise is. We have to take into account that in mixed residential and commercial areas a certain amount of noise should be expected.
        3. If we consider the noise or odour unreasonable, we will attempt to identify a solution with an appropriate timescale, and try to maintain the co-operation of the management.
        4. Where progress is slow, or co-operation not achieved, we will serve a Statutory Notice which includes our proposed resolutions and timescales. The recipient of the Notice has the right to appeal against its requirements, which may delay the outcome.

        Once the Abatement Notice has been served any further occurrences of nuisance that breach the requirements of the notice could result in the matter being referred to the Legal Team to pursue a prosecution. The maximum fine upon summary conviction in a Magistrates Court is currently up to £20,000.

        Data Protection & Privacy

        We do not release the details of the complainant other than for specific legal reasons later in the complaint investigation and enforcement proceedings. We will never release details of the complainant without the authority of that person.

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        Construction and building sites

        Construction and building sites can cause problems to local residents. Environmental Health aims to work with residents and developers to ensure that the impact is minimised and controlled, where possible.

        Permitted hours of work will normally be:

        • Monday to Friday – 0800 – 18.00
        • Saturday 0800 – 1300
        • Sundays & Bank Holidays – No Working

        If a company wishes to work outside of these hours (on a construction site) they will normally be required to submit an application for prior consent.

        Contractors are recommended to follow our Guidance for Small Scale Construction Sites.

        Noise from construction sites is controlled by the Control of Pollution Act (COPA) 1974. Construction companies and contractors are required to take all reasonable steps to control noise and to demonstrate that they are applying ‘Best Practicable Means’.

        If you are bothered by noise or dust which originates from a construction site then please contact a member of Environmental Health by;

        The problem will then be investigated and you will be kept regularly informed.

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        Pubs and clubs

        Noise from licensed premises is a common cause of complaint to local authorities by neighbouring occupiers, especially during the warmer weather. Environmental Health has a duty to investigate complaints and take action if noise is considered to be a statutory noise nuisance.

        Where a complaint of noise is received, regarding licensed premises, the matter will be brought to the attention of those responsible and discussions will take place.

        At this stage, if the problem is resolved, there will be no need for further investigations. However, if the complaint continues and remains justified, formal action will be taken in partnership with a Licensing Officer.

        Sources of noise include music, extract fans, shouting and vehicles. Controls can be imposed on such things as the volume of music, the operating hours of the venue, the operation of noisy machinery, and the opening of doors and windows. The investigating officer will recommend controls according to the nature and seriousness of the problem. They will advise complainants of any action taken and what they should do if the problems continue.

        If you are considering making an application for a Public Entertainment Licence then Officers in the Environmental Management Team are always willing to offer advice on noise control measures prior to an application being submitted.

        If you want an Officer to investigate then please

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        Noisy neighbours

        Noise from neighbours can be irritating and very annoying. Excessive noise can reduce the quality of life and, in some extreme cases, can even destroy it completely.

        Everyone has a right to reasonable enjoyment of their home and garden.

        Local authorities have a number of powers to deal with noise. The main legislation is that relating to statutory nuisance in Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

        Noise from neighbours is a common source of nuisance and can originate from barking dogs, loud music, machinery, construction, DIY activities, alarms and frequent parites.

        Please note that some neighbour noises, such as from children, raised voices, footsteps, doors being closed etc, cannot normally be dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act, as this is often an indication of poor sound insulation or may constitute everyday living. Also, the council has no enforcement powers to remedy complaints of noise caused by aircraft, road traffic and trains.

        Whether you own or rent your property you are entitled to the same consideration within the laws.

        Remember that no house or flat is totally soundproof – everyone can expect some noise from neighbours. Environmental Health consider that each resident can reasonably expect:

        • not to have their nights sleep disturbed by noise;
        • to be protected from significant loss of amenities due to noise;
        • to have suitable trained staff where necessary to assess nuisance;
        • not to hear excessive noise from someone else, in their property on a regular basis.

        Noise nuisance can occur at any time of the day or night, and the Environmental Protection Act does not specify times at which statutory nuisance can or cannot occur.

        What should you do before you make a complaint?

        It is a fact of life that the sounds we all make every day, although acceptable to us, are likely to be unwanted by someone else. One person’s music is another person’s noise.

        • Before making an official complaint firstly try talking to your neighbour, they may not be aware they are causing a problem. It maybe that the problem can be sorted out quite quickly.
        • If however you do not feel comfortable speaking to the neighbour directly, you could write a letter explaining the problem, offering them the opportunity to talk to you about it.

        If you live in a rented property you should also contact your managing agents or landlord. Housing association tenants should in the first instance report any problems to their Housing Association as they have powers under the terms of the tenancy which will enable them to take action.

        Parties

        We all like a party from time to time, and enjoy listening to music. Where this is only very occasional and the music is controlled, most people will be tolerant.

        If you intend to hold a party, please consider the following advice:

        • Inform your neighbours and let them know when it is and when you plan to finish.
        • Arrange the music so that it only entertains your guests – not the whole neighbourhood!
        • Come indoors, close all windows and doors, and turn the volume down after 11pm.
        • After 11pm check that it is no longer audible outside your home.
        • Ask your guests to leave quietly (put a notice on the door).

        It is quite a different matter if the parties become too frequent and the music is played too loud, or late into the night.

        Making a complaint about noise

        If you are regularly disturbed by noise from the same address contact a member of the Environmental Protection Team by:

        Officers will write to the person causing the problem and ask you to complete diary sheets showing frequency, duration, times and type of noise.  Once they have been returned to Environmental Protection, officers will be able to assess these and then decide on the next course of action for the noise to be witnessed. There are various methods to do this, installing a noise recorder, planned visits or our out of hours call out service.

        Where we assess that a noise coming from a person or property is unreasonable and is causing a noise nuisance we have a duty to serve an abatement notice requiring the person to eliminate the ‘unwanted noise’. Failure to comply with the notice is likely to lead to a fine of up to £5000 and/or seizure of all noise making equipment and accessories (e.g. Music system, computer, laptop, tablet etc.)

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        Outdoor events

        Many outdoor events, particularly those held during the summer, include noisy activities. These may include music, fireworks, fairgrounds, public announcements and generators. Most events like this are occasional, but when events occur regularly at the same site, noise can be annoying to local residents. Environmental Health can take action to deal with problems like this.

        Event organisers must consider noise disturbance when they plan the event. Members of the Environmental Management Team are happy to offer advice and to answer any questions.

        The following issues should be considered as part of an event organisation:

        Music Noise

        • what type of music will be played and is it live or recorded?
        • where will the music be played?
        • what time will the music be played and for how long?
        • where are the nearest houses?

        Fireworks

        • what time will the display take place?
        • how noisy will the fireworks be?
        • have local residents been advised or invited?
        • where are the nearest houses?
        • will they disturb pets, horses or livestock?

        Fairgrounds

        • where will the fair be located?
        • will it clash with other music noise?
        • has the operator been informed of any noise issues?
        • what time will it be operating and for how long?

        Public Address System

        • is the volume controlled?
        • will it be used as little as possible?
        • can it only be heard in the area required?

        Generators

        • are they necessary – could mains be supplied?
        • can temporary shielding be provided?
        • do they incorporate good silencers?
        • are they situated away from houses?
        • will they only be used when necessary?

        If you are experiencing a noise nuisance from an outdoor event then please contact a member of Environmental Health by;

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        Transportation noise

        Road traffic noise

        The council cannot take action about general noise from vehicles on the road. This includes moving and parked vehicles. However it may be possible to deal with alarms, horns, or music coming from vehicles on the road.

        It is not usually possible to deal with one-off events or moving vehicles with noisy stereos, although if a complaint is received along with vehicle registration details, we may contact the owner and provide general advice.

        Where noise from a new or substantially altered road causes increased levels of interference to residents, grants may be available to provide sound insulation.

        For further information please contact a member of Kent Highways.

        Kent Highway services

        Kent County Council contact centre: 03000 418181.

        e-mail: kent.highwayservices@kent.gov.uk

        Excessive noise from the engine of an individual identifiable vehicle may be controlled by the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations which are administered by the Police.

        Railway noise

        Noise from trains or railway works taking place on railway lines or railway premises often cause a disturbance to local residents.

        It is not possible for the council to take action in relation to noise from trains, although where a new or improved railway is proposed the Planning Department may be able to reduce the disturbance through planning permission conditions, including the construction of fences or walls if appropriate.

        Works being carried out on track or railway premises are regulated in the same manner as general building works and noise from construction sites. The Environmental Management Team will investigate any complaints received and require the contractor or operator to use noise reduction measures such as shielding, barriers, noise insulation, quieter machinery and reasonable working hours. Often the complainant will be consulted in the negotiations to agree acceptable and workable solutions.

        If you want an Officer to investigate a complaint then please contact a member of Environmental Health by;

        It is sometimes not possible to reach a solution that satisfies all parties, particularly as there are often overriding considerations associated with rail safety and possession of the track to carry out works.

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