About Noise Nuisance

Noise is defined as 'unwanted sound' and can be a problem if it intrudes into other people's living space at a high enough level. The time of day can also make things worse, i.e. late at night when people are trying to sleep. Frequent disturbance by noise is not only annoying but can lead to stress and illness.

The Law

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, noise emitted from premises (including land) may be a statutory nuisance and a local authority can take action to stop it happening and businesses or commercial premises may be fined up to £20,000 upon conviction. Private individuals are also able to take their own action by complaint to a magistrate's court and if convicted, people are liable for fines up to £5,000 with a daily fine of £500 for as long as it continues.

Some types of noise nuisance are specified in law. Car horns should not be sounded between 11.30pm and 7am in built up areas unless it is an emergency (Regulation 99(1) - Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 - fixed fine penalty notice can be issued by police). Ice cream vans are only permitted to use sound between 12pm and 7pm (Control of Pollution Act 1974, Section 62).

Currently Winchester City Council does not offer a night time monitoring service and does not therefore implement the fixed penalty fine system for night time noise under the Noise Act 1996 (as amended).

Types of Noise Nuisances

  • Loud music for long periods of time.
  • DIY work e.g. drilling, hammering, car repairs.
  • Dogs barking excessively.
  • House or car alarms sounding for long periods.
  • Noise from commercial/industrial premises.
  • Musical instruments.
  • Parties with excessive noise.
  • Car stereos, engines revving and car horns.

Keeping the Noise Down

It is important to consider your neighbours and try to minimise the noise you are making.


  • be aware of your neighbours when you are doing something noisy or let them know beforehand (especially if holding a party).
  • keep the stereo volume down, especially after 11pm, or use headphones.
  • remember if you live in a flat or maisonette, that noise and vibration travel easily through walls and floors.
  • realise that your pleasure should not lead to your neighbours distress.
  • pull TVs and speakers away from walls and up off floors.
  • keep musical instrument practices short and at respectable times.


  • carry out noisy DIY before 8.00am or after 9pm. Try to avoid DIY on Sundays.
  • play music at a level which annoys your neighbours.
  • have frequent noisy parties in your home.
  • leave dogs alone for long periods.
  • sound car horns, slam doors and rev engines at night - you might wake someone up.
  • use vacuum cleaners or washing machines late at night.

Commercial Noise

Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same way as that from a domestic premises. However, in some cases we may not need to prove a statutory nuisance. For example a pub that is in contravention of its premises licence or a site that has hours of use restrictions on its planning permission. Commercial premises also have a Best Practical Means defence (BPM).

Car and House Alarms

Faults can develop with alarms leading to their persistent sounding, which can cause distress to local residents. We deal with alarms differently to other noise problems so have a specific web page on this issue - Intruder and Car Alarms

Making a Complaint

If you have a complaint about noise disturbance try to speak to the person responsible for it first. Explain why it is disturbing you and ask them politely to turn it down. Try to keep calm and reasonable.

Contacting us

If there is no improvement in the situation then please contact the environmental protection team using our on-line reporting service.

We will normally recommend that you keep a noise diary detailing duration, frequency and effect of the noise. This will provide evidence for further and possibly legal action.
A copy of the log sheet can be downloaded from this page. However, it is recommended you speak to us first to ensure this is the best way forward for your specific problem. The log sheets should be filled out for a period of time to help us establish some information about the problems you are experiencing.

Further information about noise issues can be obtained from some of the following sites:

  • Environmental Protection UK
  • Contains useful information about pollution in general, with specific information on various noise issues.
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  • The professional organisation for Environmental Health Officers. It contains news on legislation and the profession
  • The Institute of Acoustics
  • This is a professional body for those who deal specifically with acoustics (sound). This site covers all aspects of acoustics including aerodynamic noise, environmental, industrial and architectural acoustics, audiology, building acoustics, hearing, electroacoustics, infrasonics, ultrasonics, noise, physical acoustics, speech, transportation noise, underwater acoustics and vibration.