Nuisance and Pests

Guidance on the Council's responsibility to control Statutory Nuisances Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires us to take reasonable steps to investigate and, if appropriate, to…

Guidance on the Council's responsibility to control Statutory Nuisances

Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires us to take reasonable steps to investigate and, if appropriate, to take formal action, in the event of justified complaints of statutory nuisance.

A Statutory Nuisance in this context can include emissions of noise, smoke, fumes or gases, dust, steam and smell. The emissions must arise from premises and must materially affect the use of enjoyment or other premises.

Typical of complaints of this type are loud music, accumulations of waste or faeces, smoke and ash from garden bonfires, barking dogs, smoking chimneys, dust from building and demolition activity and cooking smells from restaurants. The legislation does not allow us to deal with complaints of smells arising from domestic premises. However significant odours from properties and/or large numbers of flies may indicate a more serious problem inside so should be reported to public protection.

If satisfied that a complaint of statutory nuisance is justified, an Abatement Notice will be served upon the person responsible, occupier or owner of the premises (as appropriate) requiring that the nuisance be abated. Failure to comply with an Abatement Notice is an offence and legal proceedings may result. On conviction of failing to comply with an Abatement Notice the offender will be liable to a fine together with a further fine of an amount equal to one-tenth of the greater of £5000 or level 4 on the standard scale for each day on which the offence continues after conviction. The Council may also take proceedings in the High Court for securing the abatement, prohibition or restriction of the nuisance.

Further details on the noise nuisance procedure are below and information about smoke nuisances can be found on the Bonfires and smoke page.

Properties with excessive waste, odour or flies can be reported to us for further investigation via the Waste Accumulation Reporting Form.

Noise Nuisance

Environmental Protection Act 1990

The Council’s Environmental Protection Team deals with Noise Nuisance under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Section 79 (1) (g) states that a noise nuisance is:

  • noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance (“Prejudicial to health” means injurious, or likely to cause injury to health)

Section 2 of the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 amends the list of nuisances’ under Section 79 (1) of Environmental Protection Act 1990:

  • ga) noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street;

This enables local authorities to deal with vehicles, equipment or machinery located in the street which are emitting noise that amounts to a 'statutory nuisance'.

Control of Pollution Act 1974

Noise from Construction Activities are controlled by the Council under Section 60 & 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

Loudspeakers in the Street are controlled under Section 62 which limits the times during which loudspeakers may be sounded in the street (i.e. ice cream van chimes)

What is a nuisance?

A nuisance is an act that causes unreasonable disturbance to the use and enjoyment of your property.

Reasonable expectations are:

  • To be able to sleep without disturbance during the times normally used for sleeping.
  • To have access to qualified staff to assess the existence of nuisance, including out of hours by arrangement.
  • Not to hear excessive noise from neighbours in their home on a regular basis, e.g. DIY, barking dogs, loud music, alarms

The council will investigate complaints regarding:

  • Domestic Noise (loud music; televisions / radio; persistent shouting, banging or other unreasonable domestic noise)
  • Building and DIY work at unreasonable times of the day
  • Noise from Entertainment Venues (Pubs, Nightclubs etc.)
  • Noise from Commercial Premises (e.g. Refrigeration Equipment)
  • Noise from Construction Sites
  • Persistent barking dogs
  • Noise from Intruder Alarms (including car alarms)
  • Noise emitted from, or caused by, a vehicle or equipment in the Street


Noise has to be consistent, excessive and / or unreasonable. Light sleepers and those sensitive to noise will have to accept some disturbance. The council can not deal with noise from ordinary domestic activities or where poor sound insulation exists. The Law does not permit anybody the right to silence.

Download our Noise Leaflet.

Assessing Nuisance

An officer will need to determine if noise amounts to a statutory nuisance. This will require diaries to be kept by the complainant. Failure to return diaries will result in limited action being taken. Also, the word of the complainant, alone, is not sufficient for the Local Authority to prove nuisance. Therefore the investigating officer must be able to witness the nuisance, possibly on several separate occasions. This may include the use of surveillance equipment.

The following are factors that the officer will take into consideration:

  • Time of Day
  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • Intensity
  • Character of the Noise
  • Your location
  • Motives of the Defendant

The officer will review the evidence at each stage of the procedure.