Noise nuisance – guidance and legislation
Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Statutory Nuisance)
General noise nuisance, whether that be from domestic, trade or industrial premises, can be dealt with under the provisions of the Environmnetal Protection Act 1990. Section 79 of the Act places a legal duty on local authorities to reasonably investigate all complaints of Statutory Nuisance, and to regularly inspect the borough for the existance of nuisances.
If a Statutory Nuisance is substantiated, then the local authority must serve a Noise Abatement Notice on the person(s) responsible to effectively prohibit a recurrence. Non-compliance with a Noise Abatement Notice is an offence. Summary conviction may result in a fine of up to £5,000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for commercial and trade premises.
The Noise Act 1996 (nighttime noise offence)
Late night noise from licensed premises (pubs, nightclubs, etc.) can be dealt with under the provisions of the Noise Act 1996 (as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005). Warning notices and fixed penalty fines can be used by local authorities if noise from licensed premises breaches specified levels between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
Control of Pollution Act 1974 (loudspeakers in the street and noise from construction sites)
The inappropriate use of a loudspeaker in the street is a specific offence under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, incurring a fine on summary conviction. The Act also covers noise from construction sites, and enables local authorities to impose specific requirements on how construction work will be completed.
Traditionally, fireworks are commonly used on 5 November; however, they are becoming more popular during celebrations such as New Years Eve. Chesterfield Borough Council receives an increasing number of complaints about noise from fireworks and although they are fun, they can cause annoyance to residents and can distress pets and wildlife. The Fireworks Regulations 2004 prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from possessing fireworks and anyone except professionals from possessing display fireworks in a public place. These Regulations prohibit the supply, purchase or possession of excessively loud fireworks (over 120 decibels). In addition to this, these Regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night (11pm to 7am) in England and Wales. The Fireworks Regulations 2004 are enforced by the Derbyshire Constabulary and there is a penalty of up to £5,000 or six months in prison for breach of curfew.
Extensions to the curfew are allowed for the following festivals:
- until 1am on the night of the Chinese New Year
- until 1am on the night of Diwali
- until 1am on the night on New Years Eve
- until midnight on 5 November
Ice cream chimes
The use of chimes on vehicles selling perishable foods is subject to a Code of Practice issued by the Department of the Environment in 1982. It specifies best practice in the use of chimes suggesting how long, and under what circumstances chimes may be used to avoid annoying nearby residents. The use of chimes is an offence outside the hours of 12 noon and 7pm under any circumstances.