Where we receive a noise complaint, our officers will normally investigate and, if necessary, take appropriate action.
What a noise nuisance is
A noise nuisance is a significant and unreasonable noise that affects you in a significant and unreasonable way. It is more than annoyance and much more than the mere detection of a noise. We can look into noise nuisance caused by music, DIY, motors or barking dogs. However, we can't investigate road or air traffic noise.
Making a complaint
If you want to make a noise complaint, we would advise you to approach your neighbour first, so that complaints, especially domestic ones, can be settled between you without the council becoming involved. The neighbour dispute resolution service, run by Northern Devon Community Mediation, can also help.
If you do report a noise nuisance to us, complaints are normally investigated by our Environmental Health team. However, depending on the nature and circumstances of the complaint, it may be referred to another service, such as our Planning team or Licensing team.
Please note that anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated.
Investigating a complaint
If you have made a complaint to us, the officer assigned to investigate your particular case will normally contact you within five working days to talk about what will happen and how we can help. Your name and address will not be disclosed during the investigation unless you give us your consent, but please be aware that the alleged perpetrator may be able to assume your identity anyway.
Please note that disclosure will be necessary if legal proceedings are to be taken and where you and other witnesses will be required to give evidence in court.
In exceptional circumstances the investigating officer may decide that a written record of alleged incidences of nuisance is not needed, but normally you will be asked to keep a diary of events.
A diary is necessary:
- to illustrate a pattern of events, which is essential information if monitoring is to be carried out
- to be used as documentary evidence to support any legal action to be taken by the council
- to help put the alleged nuisance into perspective
- if the council is unable to assist, the diary may be used in a private action
This can be done on your smartphone or tablet using 'The Noise App'. Information about the app is available on the app website or download The Noise App user guidelines (272 KB). Please note, the service provider mentioned in the guidelines is North Devon Council. Alternatively a paper diary of events (pdf 40KB) can be kept.
As the complainant, you will be expected to keep the diary of events over a period of 14 days before returning it to the council.
If you are using ‘The Noise App’ you don’t need to wait until the end of the 14 days to send over recordings. Individual recordings can be sent over to the council once they have been completed by pressing the ‘send report button’ on the app. You will then receive a confirmation message saying it has been sent.
The case officer will then look at all the information contained in the diary or sent over using the app and decide whether further investigation is necessary. If an investigation is required, the officer will then write to the alleged perpetrator of the nuisance for human rights reasons before covert monitoring can start.
Without further warning to the perpetrator, it is council policy to make a maximum of three attempts to witness the nuisance, at times when it is most likely to occur. However, it may be necessary to witness the nuisance on more than one occasion.
If it is decided that a statutory nuisance exists, the person responsible for causing the nuisance will be interviewed and an Abatement Notice will be served. Please note that the alleged perpetrator does not commit a criminal offence until the terms of the notice are breached.
When action is not taken
When the nuisance is not witnessed, or if the officer considers it is not an actionable nuisance, then you will be informed of this, as the complainant, and that the council will not take any further action.
In this situation you may wish to consider private action. This must be pursued independently.