Our investigation procedure
In the first instance the officer dealing with your case will telephone you to discuss the situation and find out exactly what/ who is causing you a problem. If necessary we can arrange to visit you to discuss the problem further.
If we consider the person/activity to be unreasonable we will write to the person responsible to make them aware that their activities are causing a nuisance and ask them to stop.
Often people are not aware that they are causing a problem and we find that the initial warning letter stops it. However, sometimes the problem continues so we will also ask you to complete nuisance diary sheets and return them to us within 28 days.
Why do I have to complete diary sheets?
Diary sheets form the basis of our investigation. The diary sheets tell us what times of day the nuisance occurs, how long it goes on for, the type of nuisance, where it affects you in your home and how it affects you. All this is vital information in helping us establish the best method for investigating your complaint and it will help us establish if it is a 'statutory nuisance'. They are also essential if legal action becomes necessary.
If you have difficulty in completing the diary sheets for any reason please contact us and we will try and find a suitable alternative to suit your circumstances.
If the diary sheets indicate that the problem may be a statutory nuisance Environmental Protection officers will assess it, either in person or, for noise, with the use of recording equipment. In determining whether or not the issue is a "statutory nuisance" we will have to take into account:
- The type of nuisance.
- For noise, how loud it is.
- How often it occurs.
- How long it lasts for.
- The times that it occurs.
In some cases it becomes necessary to serve an Abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requiring the nuisance to be stopped or reduced within a reasonable time scale.
Your case officer will keep you updated on the progress of your case.
What happens after the notice is served?
If the nuisance continues we have the following options:
- Prosecution of the person responsible for not complying with the abatement notice, with fines of up to £5000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for commercial premises.
- Seizure of noise-making equipment, under a magistrate's warrant in severe cases.
- In the case of burglar or car alarms the council may enter the premise or vehicle, under a magistrate's warrant where necessary, and silence the alarm.
- On conviction for not complying with the abatement notice the council may request that the court make a forfeiture order permanently depriving the owner of any seized noise-making equipment.
Will I have to attend court?
In most cases, yes. In order to bring a successful prosecution the evidence of the person affected by the nuisance is important. It will also provide you with the opportunity to explain how the nuisance affects you.
What if Environmental Protection can't take action?
Environmental Protection will take all reasonable steps to gather sufficient evidence to take your complaint further, however in some cases we will not be able to establish that there is a legal nuisance. In these cases individuals can take their own action for nuisance through the magistrate's courts under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.