Noise is an unavoidable part of everyday human life. Whether it is in town or countryside we are surrounded by noise most of the time. While we must accept a certain degree of noise in our daily lives there are some types of noise that are unacceptable. Often people will react to noise in different ways. What can cause extreme annoyance to one person may hardly be noticed by another.
We will investigate nuisance complaints relating to both domestic and commercial premises. Every year we respond to over 200 noise nuisance complaints. The main complaints are:
- Barking Dogs
- Construction Site Noise
- Entertainment Noise
- Industrial / Commercial
- Intruder Alarms
- Neighbourhood Noise
Many noise complaints can be resolved informally be approaching the person responsible for the noise. It is not unusual for them to be unaware that they are disturbing you. However, it may be unwise to make a complaint in the heat of the moment when you are tired, frustrated or angry – the situation could get out of hand. It is better to wait until later when the matter can be discussed calmly. However, informal solutions do not always work and people may have to resort to more formal ways of dealing with the problem; the Law can help.
A standard complaints procedure is followed during the investigation. Standard Complaints Procedure
The Environmental Health Service is also consulted in respect of planning applications to try and prevent excessive amounts of noise occurring in the first place.
The Environmental Health Service can investigate complaints from other sources such as bird scarers and ice cream van chimes.
Make a Noise Complaint
If you have a complaint that you would like us to investigate or just want advice, there are a number of ways you can contact the Environmental Health Department:
Telephone: 028 3752 9626
Textphone: 18001 028 3752 600
Online: Citizen’s Say
Fax: 028 3752 7184
All dogs bark, but loud or persistent barking and whining can cause a nuisance and lead to problems relaxing or sleeping, especially if you have a baby or young children. If you’re having problems with a barking dog, speak to the owner first before making a formal complaint. The problem may be caused by a dog being left on its own for long periods of time, so your neighbour may not be aware of the problem.
If this doesn’t help contact us and we will log your complaint and instigate an investigation. This includes writing to your neighbour to advise them that we are investigating the noise.
We may also ask you to keep a record of the dates and times of each disturbance. This helps our officers to work out the best time to hear the noise, as well as gathering important evidence which may be needed if legal action is required. We may also arrange to have tamper proof recording equipment left at your house.
Under the Pollution Control and Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 1978, we can serve the owner with a Noise Abatement Notice if we feel the noise is a nuisance. This gives the owner a time limit to reduce the noise but, if it continues, they could face prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000.
For further advice on preventing constant dog barking, click to download the “Constant Dog Barking” information leaflet or Guidance to Dog Owners.
Construction Site Noise
A certain amount of noise is inherent in most types of construction and building operations, which can rarely be completely prevented. However, noise from construction sites can be very disturbing.
Councils can enforce hours of operation and noise levels on construction sites where noise is affecting residents or businesses in the area.
Contractors planning to undertake construction and demolition work can consult Environmental Health before proceeding, and ask them to make their requirements known. Further information is available by downloading the construction site noise advice leaflet.
Noise from licensed premises is a common cause for complaint especially during warm weather. The majority of complaints about noise from licensed premises are a result of ‘entertainment’ of some sort. This may be:
- noise from live or recorded amplified music
- television or video
- musical instruments
- smoking shelters
- public address systems
Problems usually occur when the licensed premise is located within a residential area. Low frequency noise from music (the bass beat) can pass easily through a buildings structure.
Most complaints of this nature occur during the summer months when windows are left open for ventilation, and people use their gardens more. At night-time background noise levels fall and entertainment noise may be more noticeable and cause disturbance. Environmental Health can investigate complaints of this nature.
Noise from industrial and commercial premises can disturb people living near by, particularly at night. Examples include:
- Factory Noise
- Entertainment Noise
- Ventilation Systems
The Council can only take action if the noise is confirmed as a statutory nuisance. Noise will have to be assessed to establish if a nuisance exists. This assessment may involve using BS4142:1997 – Rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas.
This standard details a method for assessing whether noise from the industrial source is likely to give rise to complaints from people living in the neighbourhood. It comprises noise from the source with the background noise level. The likelihood of a complaint is defined as the margin between the measured and background noise.
Intruder alarms are an effective way of protecting properties only if they are installed and maintained properly. However, fake alarms can be annoying to neighbours, especially when the occupiers are not at the property and the alarm rings for prolonged periods.
If the prolonged ringing of an alarm is causing a noise nuisance, the Council may take legal action to resolve the disturbance and prevent it recurring. You are required by law to reimburse the Council for the cost of any action taken to silence the alarm. You may also be prosecuted for causing a nuisance.
Alarm owners should do the following to avoid causing a noise nuisance:
- Register your keyholder details with the Environmental Health Department and/or the PSNI. In the event of an alarm sounding unnecessarily and complaints being received, the situation can be easily resolved with the alarm being switched off, preventing formal action by the Council.
- Make sure your alarm has a working automatic cut off device within 20 minutes of the alarm sounding a device must stop the alarm being heard by people living near the property.
- Opt for an alarm that includes a flashing light to indicate when the alarm has been activated.
- Ensure the alarm is kept in good working order.
- For further information, click on the Intruder Alarm Information Leaflet.
We deal with complaints about neighbourhood noise within Armagh City and District Council area.
Excessive noise from neighbours can be frustrating and can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and worry.
We can investigate the following types of noise:
- Playing of loud amplified music or loud TV
- DIY activities for prolonged periods or at unreasonable hours
Noise Disturbance Leaflet
É UM VIZINHO BARULHENTO?
ITA VIZIÑU IDA HALO BARULLU?
AR JUS ESATE TRIUKŠMINGAS KAIMYNAS?
CZY JESTES HALASLIWYM SASIADEM?
Noise Disturbance – Russian
Noise Disturbance – Chinese
Planning applications are received by the Environmental Health Department for consultation. These are checked to see if it would be appropriate to build noise prevention measures into the development.
This may often involve the agent/applicant employing the services of an acoustic consultant. Further advice is available by downloading the Advice Note on Acoustic Reports.