POLLUTION AND NOISE CONTROL
Complaints of Statutory Nuisances
The Council will investigate complaints of ‘statutory nuisances’ relating to pollution matters which may be prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Examples are: noise from private or commercial premises, smoke, exhaust fumes from heating equipment, odours, car spraying fumes, dust and steam.
Ruinous and Dilapidated Buildings
Under Article 66 of The Pollution Control Order 1978, if it appears to the Council that a building or structure is by reason of its ruinous or dilapidated condition, seriously detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood then the Council may by Notice require the owner to carry out works of repair or restoration as may be necessary in the interests of amenity. Please note that unfinished housing developments cannot be classified as ‘ruinous or dilapidated’.
Artificial Light Pollution
The council now have a duty to investigate complaints of artificial light nuisance from domestic and commercial premises: eg domestic security lights, commercial security lights, leisure facilities, decorative lighting of buildings and laser shows. Many cases of artificial light pollution can be solved through simple engineering techniques such as re-directing the light to achieve the desired illumination. Luminaires and detectors should be aimed to detect and light people on the property, not people or animals walking down the street.
What is Noise?
Noise is unwanted sound and it is very subjective with people reacting to it in different ways.
Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 noise emitted from premises “so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance” is an offence. Common complaints are barking dogs and loud music and parties. Noise from commercial premises can also be a source of noise nuisance e.g noisy air-conditioning units.
What can cause extreme annoyance to one person may hardly be noticed by another.
What you may think is good music, may be an awful racket to your neighbour. Consider reducing the volume or wearing head-phones. Move TV and speakers away from your neighbour’s walls. Raise them above the floor if possible.
Vacuuming late at night may suit your lifestyle but may awaken the baby in the flat below.
After you leave for work your dog may be barking because it is lonely or bored. Constant barking or whining can be disturbing to your neighbours. A well- trained dog will not bark unnecessarily.
Noise can annoy us, irritate us, cause stress, disturb our peace and quiet and affect our sleep.
Occasionally, noise complaints concerning commercial or industrial noise sources are received. The Environmental Health Officer will ensure where a nuisance is established, that all reasonable and practical steps are taken by the person responsible to ensure that the noise levels are controlled at a suitable level. Any resulting formal action where a statutory noise nuisance has been served may be followed up by court action.
Examples of such complaints include noisy generators, air-conditioning systems, early morning un-loading of goods etc.
Vehicle/ Machinery or Equipment in the Street Noise
Noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in the street can now be deemed a statutory noise nuisance. Examples include:-
- . Compressors used to dig up the street
- . Vehicles using reversing bleepers
- . Car Alarms
- . Generators
- . Coaches, buses or other vehicles parked with engines running.
In deciding whether noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, the following factors will be considered: -
- Loudness of the noise
- When the noise occurs
- How often the noise occurs
- The effect on the person affected by the noise
- The likely reaction of the average reasonable person to the noise
Where the Council is satisfied that a noise nuisance exists, it can serve a Noise Abatement Notice on the person responsible for making the noise, to require them to reduce the noise. Non-compliance with the notice can mean legal proceedings in the Magistrates Court. Note that a noise can be a “nuisance” if it occurs any time of the day or night.
What is involved in a Noise Investigation?
The Environmental Health Service will try firstly, to resolve any complaint informally. The alleged noisemaker will be contacted by in writing, giving advice and warned that the complaint may be formally investigated.
The complainant will normally be asked by the Environmental Health Officer to keep noise monitoring records sheets for a period of three or more weeks. This is to show the extent of the problem and will identify any trends or patterns. If, on completion of this information, it indicates that a problem may exist, an Officer will attempt to gather independent evidence. This can be done by setting up noise monitoring equipment to record and measure the offending noise and by Officers witnessing the noise when it is happening and measuring it.
If the Officer is satisfied that a statutory noise nuisance exists, a Noise Abatement Notice can be served on the person responsible for making the noise. Failure to adhere to this notice can result in prosecution by the council.
The Council will not take anonymous complaints of noise disturbance, but complainants can be assured that their details are confidential. However, if legal action is to be taken, the complainant's details in most cases must be written on the abatement notice. The complainant must also be willing to appear as a witness in any legal proceedings.
Under the new Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, the council will provide a Night Noise Servicewhereby an authorised officer can carry out a pre-planned visit to a complainant’s house after 11.00pm to monitor noise complaints as part of an on-going noise investigation. The officer has the discretion to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to the noise-maker in cases where the legal Permitted Noise Level is exceeded (with a Fine of £100 for domestic noise-makers and £500 for commercial premises). Failure to pay the fine will result in the offender being taken to court for a prosecution. Alternatively, depending on the nature of the noise incidence, the officer may decide that a Noise Nuisance Abatement Notice is the most appropriate action – as described above.
Please note: this is not an immediate response call-out service.
Intruder Alarm Registration Scheme
Occasionally an intruder alarm can sound without reason and when no one is in the property to turn it off a noise nuisance can develop with complaints received by the Environmental Health Service from those living or working nearby. It is possible for faulty alarms to sound off and on for days when the occupants are away. This can be counter-productive in signalling to potential intruders that no one is at home.
Councils now have the power to establish Alarm Notification Areas whereby alarm owners are legally obliged to register details of keyholders with the council. A keyholder is a person who owns a set of keys to the alarm holder’s property and can, if necessary, gain entry and reset the alarm within 20 minutes of a complaint being made. In these designated areas failure to register can result in the service of a Fixed Penalty Notice of £75.
By registering your alarm details this will enable any complaint to be resolved promptly; minimising noise disturbance and removing the need for formal action by the council. Councils can enter premises by force under warrant to disconnect the alarm and subsequently will charge the alarm-holder for costs incurred.
Noisy Building Construction Works
Building contractors should not carry out noisy work activity likely to disturb neighbours outside of the hours of 8.00am – 6.00pm on weekdays; 9.00am – 1.00pm on Saturdays and should not carry out noisy work on a Sunday or a Public Holiday although there may be extenuating circumstances.
Pollution Control FAQs
For further advice on Noise and Pollution matters, contact Environmental Health on 028 9049 4644.
Further information please contact:
Castlereagh Borough Council
Environmental Health Service Unit
Civic & Administrative Offices
Telephone: 028 9049 4640 Fax: 028 9049 4625 e-mail: email@example.com