Noise pollution

Unwanted noise can be a source of stress and irritation for many people.

Sources of noise nuisance

Some of the most common sources of noise nuisance or pollution are:

  • Aircraft noise
  • Alarms (burglar alarms and car alarms)
  • Barking dogs - complaints about barking dogs are dealt with by our dog wardens.
  • Commercial noise (eg pubs and clubs)
  • Construction noise
  • Neighbourhood noise (eg loud music, parties or fireworks) - view advice on dealing with noisy neighbours.

When does noise become a statutory nuisance?

Generally, noise can be considered a statutory nuisance if it has a bad effect on you or your enjoyment of your home. The noise would also have to be persistent and regular - a one off party would not usually be called a statutory nuisance.

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 gives us legal powers to deal with noise where it is defined as a statutory nuisance.

Aircraft in flight are exempt from the EPA legislation.

Persistent noise problems

If you are being disturbed by persistent noise problems, such as a neighbour's loud music, we suggest you keep a diary to record the details. This should include: the date, time, duration and description of each occurrence. You can call our officers for advice during office hours (8.45am to 5.15pm Mondays to Thursdays, 8.45am to 4.45pm on Fridays). We also provide advice on dealing with noisy neighbours.

Resolving noise issues informally through mediation

You may prefer to resolve noise nuisance issues informally, without our intervention. You can do this with the help of a mediation service. Mediation Buckinghamshire (based in High Wycombe, see link below for website) offer a confidential and impartial service that can improve situations by talking things over.

The mediators are volunteers from the local community who have been trained to work with neighbours in dispute. The service is free to local residents.

Proposed industrial or commercial development that may affect existing residential premises

Environmental Services are consulted on and give advice on many planning applications submitted to the Council. A frequent query is what is our design standard for the introduction of new plant that may affect residential premises such as air extraction or air conditioning equipment?

In this instance we would refer to BS4142:2014 which is used to assess the likely effects of sound on people who might be inside or outside a dwelling upon which sound is incident. In order to ensure there will be no adverse or significant impact we advise that the design standard for the sound level from a new noise source should be at least 5dB below the existing background levels at any sensitive receptor. Where the new noise source is of a character that contains a subjective prominence the sound level shall be further reduced by an amount as suggested in the subjective method of obtaining the rating level in BS4142:2014.