Noise disturbance FAQs

Q1: What is noise disturbance?
Q2: Can I take my own action if I am bothered by noise?
Q3: What should I do if an informal approach fails to bring about an improvement in the situation?
Q4: What happens when I return my log sheets?
Q5: Can I also take my own formal action through the courts?
Q6: Can music be played at any level up to 11pm?
Q7: What can be done about firework noise?


Q1: What is noise disturbance?

The noise must be an ongoing problem and a member of Council staff must decide if the noise affecting the complainant would similarly affect the 'average person'.

We can take action against the following noise disturbances:

  • industrial and commercial noise
  • noise from construction sites
  • domestic noise such as amplified music and DIY
  • barking dogs
  • car alarms
  • audible household intruder alarms
  • private nuisances

We will not usually take formal action against normal domestic sounds of occupation, such as:

  • slamming doors
  • raised voices in an argument
  • children playing

We cannot deal with the following complaints:

  • overall traffic noise (individual noisy vehicles ie with faulty silencers is a matter for Surrey Police)
  • aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters)- see separate advice on the BAA website or call the BAA noise line on 0800 344 844

Q2: Can I take my own action if I am bothered by noise?

Yes, speak to the person(s) responsible for the noise before contacting us

  • approach your neighbours in a calm, friendly way so as to avoid confrontation
  • if you have reservations about verbal contact you could put your concerns in writing either in the form of a note put through the door or a more formal letter
  • it may take some time for any arrangements to take place so be patient. If you notice an improvement let them know so this reduced level of disturbance can be a benchmark

Q3: What should I do if an informal approach fails to bring about an improvement in the situation?

  • you should contact Environmental Health
  • a standard letter will normally be sent to the person(s) you allege are causing a nuisance. Your anonymity will be preserved at this stage though this may not be possible if the case comes to be heard at the Magistrates Court
  • you will need to complete log sheets for a period of 2-3 weeks, writing the dates and times of when the noise is occurring

Q4: What happens when I return my log sheets?

If there is enough evidence on the log sheets to show that a noise disturbance may be occurring we can install monitoring equipment to record the levels. If the monitoring equipment shows the levels are above that which are acceptable we will serve a legal Abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If the noise disturbance continues after this has been sent, it may be necessary for a council officer to witness the noise occurring. If it happens infrequently or out of office hours arrangements may be made by officers to attend but this will be done by prior arrangement. We do not operate an on call 'out of office' service for first time noise events.

Q5: Can I also take my own formal action through the courts?

You can take your own action under Section 82 Environmental Protection Act 1990. Contact Staines Magistrates Court on 01784 459261. You will be required to detail the nature of your complaint using your log sheets. If the court is satisfied that a nuisance exists or is likely to recur they can make an order requiring the nuisance to stop. You must write to your neighbours to advise them that you intend to go to court.

Q6: Can music be played at any level up to 11pm?

Music played loudly and frequently at any time of the day could be considered to be a nuisance if neighbours cannot hear their own radio/TV at a reasonable level. However, loud music, played frequently in the early hours of the morning that causes sleep disturbance is more likely to be viewed as a noise disturbance.

Q7: What can be done about firework noise?

From 7 August 2004, Regulation 7 of the Fireworks Regulations 2004 came into effect, which means that it is now a criminal offence to use 'adult fireworks' during the night hours of 11pm to 7am, except on a 'permitted firework night'.

These are:

  • Chinese New Year - 11pm to 1am
  • 5 November - 11pm to 12am
  • Day of Diwali - 11pm to 1am
  • New Year's Eve - 11pm to 1am
  • Enforcement of Regulation 7 is the responsibility of the local police