Noise Complaints

The Environmental Health Department receives many reports of alleged noise nuisance but only noise assessed to be a 'statutory nuisance' can be investigated.

IMPORTANT - Construction Noise Complaints - Coronavirus: Government Construction Site Update 13th May 2020

The Government has published a ministerial statement on planning and construction working hours which will change how complaints of noise regarding construction activities will be investigated by local authorities.

The Government statement expects local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours temporarily to support safe working in line with social distancing guidelines until 9pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are very compelling reasons against approving.

In effect, developers can expect the authority to grant temporary changes to construction working hours until 9pm or later, 6 days a week.

Whilst Milton Keynes Council will be requesting that developers restrict their noisiest activities to previous ‘normal’ working hours, it is to be anticipated that if you live in the vicinity of a construction site you should expect to experience increased activity later into the evening.

We appreciate this situation is not ideal and may well lead to further interference with peoples’ home lives. Complaints made about construction work being undertaken outside of normal hours will be logged by us and we will be reviewing complaint trends. We will liaise with site operators where we think operations can be altered to reduce noise impact but it is unlikely that we will be seeking to enforce previous site working hours.

At present, we do not know what impact this is likely to have on noise complaint numbers and the noise team is operating in a restricted way. In light of this, if you make a complaint, please expect a standard response email or letter advising that your complaint has been received, reviewed and logged by us with appropriate action taken.

How to Complain about Noise Disturbance

The council's Environmental Health Department is responsible for investigating allegations of Statutory Nuisance caused by excessive noise and you can complain directly to them about noise which is causing you a problem.

However, in the first place it may be helpful if you can approach the person responsible for the problem and explain to them the nature of the problem.  They may not realise that they are causing you a problem.

You may wish to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice about your rights.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Telephone: 0870 1264050

Milton Keynes CAB

If the above does not help then complaints can be made to the Council's Environmental Health Department by completing our online form.  Anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated.  Complaints made to the out of hours service will not be seen by an officer until office hours of the next working day.

Dealing with complaints of noise disturbance

 

Noise Complaint numbers received by Milton Keynes Council per quarter:

Year

Jan – March

April – June

July – Sept

Oct – Dec

Total

2019

356

508

660

335

1859

2018 403 586 706 340 2035

2017

545

606

587

397

2135

Type and number of noise complaints received in the 12 month period 1/4/19 to 1/4/20

Noise type

Number of complaints received

Alarm

94

Barking Dog

299

Other Animals and Birds 20

Bells

1

Public Address Systems 6

Machinery (fixed) e.g. fans, boiler

41

Plant/machinery (mobile) e.g. construction 131
People 407
Music 515
Party 89
TV/Radio 16

Fireworks

8

Shooting 2
Boats 2
Vehicles 65
Vehicle repairs 15
DIY 37
Low frequency 16
Unidentified/other 95

Total

1859

The Environmental Health Department investigates cases of alleged noise nuisance but only noise assessed to be a 'statutory nuisance' can be investigated.  A 'statutory nuisance' is defined as a substantial interference of well-being, comfort and enjoyment of land.  The Environmental Health Department cannot investigate 'ordinary living noise' including but not exclusively; 

  • Shutting doors,
  • walking up and down stairs,
  • children playing, 
  • A matter concerned with poor sound insulation between the properties

With an initial complaint of noise disturbance, the Environmental Health Department will normally ask you to complete a Noise pack (PDF, 323KB)  if you do not have the facilities to download or print the noise pack you can contact the Environmental health team and they will send you a "noise pack", usually within five working days.

No further action will be taken until you have filled in the diary sheets from the noise pack and returned them to the office.  It is necessary to do this in order to show that there is a significant noise problem which requires the intervention of the Environmental Health Department.

For the Council to take legal action against noise nuisance, the noise must be proven by a council officer to be both unreasonable and excessive.  The Courts will only consider something a nuisance if it would be a nuisance to a “reasonable person”.

However, in some cases there may be a necessity for the Environmental Health Department to take urgent action.  For example, in cases which affect a large number of people (i.e. major noise incidents) you will be contacted by an officer as soon as possible to obtain further details and explain what action will be taken

Complaints to the Council of noise disturbance outside office hours

As from the 1 April 2017 complaints can only be made out of office hours through online reporting.  The complaint will be reviewed by an officer during office hours of the next working day.

Obligation to inform prospective property purchasers about complaints

Remember that if you do make a complaint to the local authority and then later sell your property, you are under a legal obligation to advise the purchaser of this fact, the current situation and the reasons why the complaint was made in the first place. Failure to do this could result in a claim being made against you by the purchaser.

 

 

 

Last Updated: 21 May 2020