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Noise issues

The following information will help explain where we have powers to help you deal with noise. We can deal with many types of noise problems, from domestic and business premises. 

You should always try to speak to the person responsible for the noise in the first instance, people may not realise they are causing an issue. Below is a suggested letter format for you to use. If there is no improvement, submit a noise nuisance report to us, bearing in mind the following information.

Are there any time restrictions for the playing of music?

There are no periods of time when the playing of loud music is specifically allowed. If the noise is causing a nuisance to others then it is a nuisance regardless of the time of day, or day of the week.

Is there a noise level set in Law?

There is no noise level set in Law. Noise is a subjective assessment; therefore loud music being played from a detached property is unlikely to cause a nuisance whereas the same level of music in a block of flats is likely to cause a nuisance. Environmental Health Officers are qualified and trained to assess whether a noise is likely to be a statutory nuisance. They are also authorised to take legal action to stop the statutory nuisance.

Are there any types of noise that the Council can't deal with?

We can only take legal action in relation to statutory noise nuisances. We cannot normally take legal action, for example, in relation to transport noise. If you are not sure whether we can help, it’s best to contact us directly and we will advise you.
We are also unable to deal with many types of behavioural or lifestyle noise such as:

  • noise from children playing
  • the normal use of appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, DIY tools at reasonable times
  • Sound insulation issues- such as noise from flushing toilet, footsteps

Please note the Council will not investigate noise that happens infrequently, the noise must occur regularly and be an ongoing issue. We are also unable to investigate any complaints made anonymously.

If I have a noise problem, do I have to rely on the Council for help?

No. Anyone who believes that they are suffering from a statutory noise nuisance can take their own private civil action against the person causing the noise under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. To find out more contact a Solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If I make a complaint are my details kept confidential?

Our policy is to keep the personal information that we have about you such as your name and address, confidential.

If you want us to resolve a statutory noise nuisance for you, and we need to take legal action to do it we may have to disclose your personal details. For example, if we serve a Noise Abatement Notice the person causing the noise nuisance will have a right to know who made the complaint if they decide to legally appeal against the noise abatement notice in court. Similarly, if a case goes to the Court you may be required to give evidence. However, many cases are resolved informally before legal action is taken.

What can I do if the noise is coming from construction sites?

Construction sites are in the open and are often near existing residential accommodation. Residents will in general accept construction site noise but will complain if work starts early or finishes late or takes place on Saturday afternoon, Sundays or Bank Holidays. Complaints about construction noise can be investigated by Environmental Services staff.

Where can I get further information about noise, including noise nuisance?

A good starting point is the GOV.UK website.

What can I do to stop my dog barking?

The constant barking or whining of a dog can be very annoying for neighbours. The dog may also be trying to communicate that something is wrong, for example boredom, anxiety or medical issues.

The problem often occurs when the dog owner is out of the house so the owner doesn’t know until someone complains.

If a dog barks regularly and causes a significant disturbance to a neighbour, the dog owner must take steps to resolve the problem.  If they fail to take appropriate steps they may be guilty of an offence under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or of conduct which is unreasonable for the purposes of the Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014-Part 4.

In order to address the barking, the owner must first understand why the dog is barking and then consider what action can be taken.

Please see our advice sheet for practical tips.

Dog Noise Advice

Information we need

We will only accept a noise complaint where you have completed a noise diary for three weeks. This must be uploaded with your noise report. If you have not kept the diary for three weeks, we will not accept the complaint.

An example noise diary can be found below:

Noise diary

On receipt of your noise complaint and diary, we will assess the diary to see if we can help you further. If we can help, we will make contact with the person you tell us is causing the noise. Your details will be kept in confidence. If you do not wish us to contact the person, then we will be unable to assist with your enquiry. 

If you are unable to submit the noise diary electronically via the form please send a paper version of the noise diary to Public Protection Service, Plymouth City Council, Ballard House, West Hoe Road, PL1 3BJ. Please include your address and the address from where the noise problem is coming from.