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Anti-social noise and your legal rights

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For the lay person, anti-social noise, your rights and what can be done about it can be problematic, so we have put together this guide to keep you informed.

Confiscation

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions have recently consulted on a review of the Noise Act Powers of Confiscation

Under Section 10 of the Act a local authority officer or other authorised officer may enter the dwelling and seize and confiscate equipment which it is thought is or has been used to emit noise. Section 10(7) clarifies the powers of a local authority under section 81(3) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to seize noise making equipment in order to abate noise nuisance. This came into force in September 1996, but does not apply to Northern Ireland.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Under s.80 of the EPA a statutory nuisance is defined as noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance… If a noise is deemed a nuisance, a noise abatement notice must be served by the local authority. If the offender fails to comply with the notice, proceedings can be taken in the Magistrates Court or an injunction sought in the High Court. Under s.80 of the EPA an occupier of premises affected by noise nuisance can complain directly to the Magistrates Court. Civil action can also be taken to abate noise nuisance.

the civic government (Scotland) act 1982

Under s.54 of the CG(S)A any person who plays a musical instrument, radio, TV, record player or other device or who sings so as to cause annoyance to any other person must stop when requested to do so by a Police Constable. The Police also have powers to seize any instrument or device where they suspect an offence has been committed.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998

This Act was implemented on 1 April 1999. It allows all councils to issue an anti-social behaviour order to anyone causing harassment, alarm or distress, including noise pollution. Disobeying an order carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. The legislation is aimed at cases where noise is only one aspect of the problem.

Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993

Under the NASNA noise in the street from the following sources can be declared a statutory nuisance noise emitted from a vehicle, caused by it or by car repairs, car radios, car alarms and parked refrigerator vehicles. The use of loudspeakers is banned between 9.00pm and 8 am, unless licensed by the local authority.

Audible intruder alarms

Proposals were put forward in 1995 under the NASNA to give local authorities powers to control noise from alarms, but there are currently no plans to implement these. However in London the London Local Authorities Act 1991 gives local authorities the power to prosecute owners or occupiers of buildings whose alarms cause annoyance to people in the vicinity.

Car alarms

A proposal to amend the Construction and Use Regulations to help control nuisance from car alarms was put forward for consultation in 1991. No further action has been taken.

Construction site noise

Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 local authorities can serve a notice imposing requirements on the construction works to minimise noise.

European Union Action

The European Commission Fifth Action Programme on the Environment proposes measures aimed at reducing exposure to night time noise pollution. The Commission also published a Green Paper on Noise in 1996, recognising that current measures to protect people from noise, in particular traffic noise, are not sufficient. The Commission is currently working towards harmonisation of assessment measures for ambient noise exposure and looking at other noise issues. It is in the process of developing a framework directive on noise, and has published a proposal for a Directive *3.

The development work is being taken forward by a multi-agency steering group and assisted by working groups on Indices, Dose/Effects, Computation and Measurement, Noise Maps, Abatement, Road Transport, Outdoor Machinery, Railways and Aircraft. It is proposed that all agglomerations above a population of 250,000 will be required to produce a noise map. Member countries will also have to set targets for noise although the final shape of these is likely to be left up to the individual states. It is envisaged that the Directive will enter into force by January 2002 and be transposed into national legislation by July 2003.

Local Authorities and noise management

Past surveys by NSCA and others have found a wide variation in the way in which local authorities deal with noise problems. This has led to frustration by complainants, who, depending upon where they live, have a 24 hour 7 day call out or experience difficulty getting an officer to witness a noise at all! In an attempt to resolve these inconsistencies, and bearing in mind the variation in the magnitude of noise problems in different areas, NSCA published guidelines for local authority noise management in 1994. Following the recommendations of a Government working party on noise, the Chartered Institute of 2 Environmental Health published further guidance in February 1997 .

1 Neighbour Noise Problems: NSCA Local Authority Guidelines, NSCA October 1994

2 Guidance on the Creation and Maintenance of Effective Noise Management Policies and Practice for local authorities and their Officers, CIEH, 1997 ISBN 090010375 2

3 Proposal for a European Parliament and a Council Directive relating to the Assessment and Management of Environmental Noise (COM (2000) 468.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Press here to view the full bill. Scroll down to Part 7 for law concerning noise.

Infomation above was obtained from www.opsi.gov.uk