Noise pollution

If you’re having a problem with noise like loud music, noisy pubs, rowdy parties or barking dogs in your neighbourhood, we may be able to help.

What can investigate Unlikely to investigate We can't investigate
  • Domestic noise (barking dogs, TV/stereo noise, DIY, shouting, banging doors, house alarms)
  • Commercial noise (fans, refrigeration motors, construction activities, entertainment in pubs etc)
  • Noise in streets (car alarms, loudspeakers, machinery etc)  
  • Everyday noise (washing machines, vacuum cleaners, children playing, flushing toilets etc) 
  • Noise from cars and vehicles on a public road
  • Noise from civil aircraft (contact Civil Aviation Authority)
  • Noise from military aircraft (contact Ministry of Defense)
  • Noise coming from an unknown source

There are two course of action, you can take:

  • Informal action
  • Contact us for help

Informal action

Before making a formal complaint or getting others involved, try to discuss the problem with your neighbour. They may be unaware of the issue they are causing.

If you are not comfortable talking to them in person, a polite letter could be written.

You should keep records of your communication and give them time to respond (at least a couple of weeks).

If your neighbour lives in rented accommodation, you may wish to contact their landlord. If it's a social landlord, such as Yorkshire Coast Homes, or Sanctuary Housing they should be able to help. 

If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well. It can be easier to settle a dispute if the complaint comes from a number of people.

Contacting us

If you feel you've tried everything to sort things out, you can contact us using our online form, or by calling 01723 232323.

Please have as much information as possible to hand before contacting us.

What happens next

A letter is generally sent to the alleged noisy person or business, asking for co-operation. At this stage, we do not tell them who has made the complaint. If the case goes to court, the identity of the person who has complained will probably be revealed.

We will also write to you enclosing a diary sheet to keep a record of the problem.

You must keep a written diary of dates and times when the noise occurs, as well as details of what impact it is having. 

If the diary sheets are not completed and returned to us within six weeks of first making a complaint, the investigation will be closed.

During the course of an investigation, attempts will be made to try and resolve matters informally.

We may visit and speak to all parties and will usually try to witness the noise.

Visits could be arranged for times when the noise occurs to establish how severe the noise problem is.

Recording equipment may be provided to record the nuisance as it occurs.

There is no "quick fix" for noise problems.  We need to prove that a nuisance exists and usually take readings over a period of time.

Complaints may take several months to be fully investigated.

Generally, we would need to have evidence of serious disturbance on at least three occasions before legal notices can be served. 

Legal action

If a statutory nuisance is determined, a noise abatement notice will be served on the person responsible requiring the offender to stop causing a nuisance.

If the noise continues and further nuisance is witnessed, prosecution of the offender will be pursued.  In exceptional circumstances we may exercise powers to seize noise making equipment. The courts can impose substantial fines (unlimited).

Although very few cases reach the stage of going to court, if this does happen, a witness statement from the person who made the complaint will be very important and they may well be called to give evidence at a court hearing.

Taking your own private legal action

If we are not able to take any action we will write to you and advise that you may take your own private action.

You can make a complaint directly to the Magistrates’ Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. You will similarly need to produce evidence including any correspondence and records of the noise. If the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of a nuisance they can make an order requiring it to be abated and prohibiting its recurrence.

Noise nuisance - a guide to what you can do

Dog owners - constant barking can be avoided 

Additional noise information

Alarms (includes intruder alarms fitted to properties and vehicles)

Alarms hould only ring for a limited period (20 minutes in the case of properties and 5 minutes in respect of vehicles).

Complaints will be sent to our commercial regulation team for immediate investigation.

We will try to contact the owner of the property/vehicle and ensure the noise is stopped. If necessary a warrant can be obtained to gain access to the property/vehicle and silence the alarm.

Loudspeakers

Loudspeakers cannot be used for advertising entertainment, trade or business and there are limits when they can be used. Limits also apply to ice cream van chimes.

Commercial/industrial premises

Businesses must demonstrate that they are doing their best to minimise any disturbance. In legal terms this is known as employing “best practicable means”.

Construction site noise

A certain amount of disruption is inevitable as part of any development though as above we will try and ensure the developer is using best practicable means.

The generally accepted hours for noise related activities on development sites are:

  • 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday
  • 8am to 1pm Saturday
  • No working on Sundays and Bank Holidays

These are not legal limits and it does not mean work cannot take place outside of these hours, particularly where the activities are not considered intrusive. However, it should be noted that some developments may have a planning condition attached which specifies these hours, in which case the planning department may be able to take action for breach of conditions.

Construction site guidelines for householders and developers

Bird scarers

At particular times of the year, bird scarers are employed by farmers to protect crops from damage. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has published a code of practice on the use of bird scarers and giving advice on how to minimise nuisance. It is available to view on their website.

Licensed premises 

Please contact the our licensing department on 01723 232323 or licensing.services@scarborough.gov.uk for more information on how to go about requesting a review of a licensed premises.

Antisocial behaviour

Incidents of anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood disputes can be reported to the community impact team via email: saferscarboroughhub@scarborough.gcsx.gov.uk or telephone 01723 383646, 9am to 5pm on weekdays.