Noise Pollution

Covid-19 update; As people are spending more time at home we are seeing an increase in noise complaints. Please be considerate of your neighbours at this time and remember that they cannot go out to avoid any noise and may be ill. Please avoid playing music outside, and keep windows closed when you have music on inside. Noise is a particular problem at night and everyone needs their sleep at the current time to keep them healthy so please keep noise to a minimum when people could reasonably be trying to sleep.

The current pandemic has also led to changes in the way officers are able to investigate complaints and the requirement for site visits is being assessed on a case by case basis. Our out of hours service is still operational whilst maintaining social distance requirements to keep everyone safe.

Noise is defined as unwanted sound and it can come from a number of sources, such as loud music, barking dogs, machinery, construction and DIY activity, shouting, banging doors, alarms and transport.  Local authorities have a number of powers to deal with noise. The main legislation is that relating to statutory nuisance in Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Domestic noise 

Noise from neighbours can be very irritating or even disturbing. The majority of noise problems can be resolved by talking to the person responsible, as they may not be aware that their activities are causing disturbance. Usually this action can help to resolve the matter amicably, without the need for Environmental Health to become involved. However, if talking to your neighbours does not help to resolve the issue, then we may be able to help.

A guidance leaflet on Noisy Neighbours.pdf [pdf] 396KB, with details of the service you can expect from us, is available. In some cases, we may decide not to take further action. This may depend on the number of complaints received or lack of substantial evidence of nuisance. In such cases, you may wish to take you own private action. A guidance leaflet on Taking your own Legal Action.pdf [pdf] 142KBis available.

Any non-emergency complaints should be made to the Council’s during normal office hours. using this report it eform or telephone 01903 737755.

Many local authority noise teams have reported an increase in neighbour complaints and disputes arising from stripped-board, laminate and wood block floors. Some noise problems are part of a wider Anti-Social Behaviour issue. If you are concerned by noise which you think may be Anti-Social Behaviour, you may want to see the Safer Arun Partnership website. 

Out of hours noise complaints

The Council provides an out-of-hours service for emergency noise problems to witness the disturbance and gather evidence. It is not usually possible for Officers to intervene or stop the noise immediately. The Council’s contractor will respond to complaints about continuously misfiring car alarms or other audible intruder alarms or other noise nuisance having a serious impact on several households in the vicinity of a noise source. The contractor will not respond to 'one to one' complaints nor to any neighbour noise dispute, unless the complaint is on-going and has previously been referred to the contractor by the Environmental Health Officer dealing with the case. The out of hours service can be contacted on 01903 737500.


The use of fireworks (not including sparklers, party poppers, etc.) is not permitted between 11pm and 7am. The only exceptions to this are:

  • Until midnight on 5th November
  • Until 1am on New Year's Eve
  • Until 1am on Chinese New Year
  • Until 1am during Diwali

There are also exceptions for local authority displays, and national public celebrations and commemorative events.

Noise from barking dogs

Constant barking or whining of a dog can disturb neighbours. Many owners do not realise that the problem is occurring as it usually only occurs when the dog owner has left the dog alone in the property. Like neighbourhood noise problems, disturbance from a barking dog can usually be resolved by talking to the person responsible, as they may not be aware of the situation. However, if talking to your neighbours does not help to resolve the issue, we may be able to help. If you would like to report a barking dog, please use this eform or call 01903 737755. 

Burglar alarms

Burglar alarms on houses or premises can be a useful deterrent but they can occasionally give rise to serious noise nuisance due to faulty setting or false alarms.

In order to avoid the chance of burglar alarms giving rise to noise nuisance, householders/managers should ensure that the alarm has a cut-out device, and/or keyholders can be readily contacted and can attend within 20 minutes. Sussex Police no longer keep keyholder details.

If an alarm continues to sound we may have no option but to take formal action. This action can include silencing of the alarm at the owner’s expense.

You can help prevent noise nuisance from your alarm by:

  • Letting your neighbours know how to contact a keyholder in your absence, or signing up a keyholder scheme
  • Installing the alarm fully in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
  • Servicing the alarm regularly
  • Ensuring that keyholders know how to enter the property to silence the alarm
  • Ensuring that, where possible, the alarm’s cut-out device allows the alarm to sound for no more than twenty minutes, and that it re-triggers no more than three times

Further advice on home security is available from Sussex Police. To report an alarm to us, please use the report it eform, call 01903 737755 (office hours only) or 01903 737500 (out of hours emergencies only)

Vehicle alarms

Car alarms can occasionally give rise to serious noise nuisance due to faulty setting or false alarms. If an alarm sounds continuously or intermittently to such an extent that a statutory noise nuisance is caused and the keeper cannot be contacted within a reasonable period of time, we may have no option but to take formal action. This action can include the service of a Noise Abatement Notice and the silencing of the alarm or removal of the vehicle at the owner’s expense.

You can help prevent noise nuisance from your vehicle alarm by:

  • Installing the alarm fully in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
  • Servicing the alarm regularly
  • Adjusting the sensitivity appropriately
  • Ensuring that the sunroof and windows are closed when the alarm is activated
  • Ensuring that, where possible, the alarm’s cut-out device limits the time that the alarm sounds and prevents it from repeatedly re-triggering
  • Ensuring the DVLA has up to date registered keeper information that may enable the person responsible for the vehicle to be contacted before formal action is considered necessary

To report an alarm to us, please use the  report it eform , call 01903 737755 (office hours only) or 01903 737500 (out of hours emergencies only)

Noise from construction/demolition sites

Construction sites can cause significant levels of noise. Construction works include the demolition, maintenance, repair, erection, construction of buildings or roads and any work of engineering construction. Much of this noise is unavoidable and noise control methods are a balancing act between the needs of the developer to carry out the works and the rights of neighbours to the quiet enjoyment of their properties.  The law governing noise from construction sites strives to achieve this balance. The Council aims to minimise the impact of noise from such works on residents.  There are no set hours during which construction/demolition work can take place. However, it is normally expected that noisy activities will not be undertaken at night-time nor on Sundays or Bank Holidays.  An out of hours emergency noise service may be available if there is widespread noise disturbance.  Noise levels should be minimised as far as possible, and plant should be fitted with silencing devices where practicable. In some cases, developers/contractors may seek "prior approval" under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, for noise emissions. Conditions such as: hours of operation, plant and equipment used, methods of work and noise limits, may then be placed on the demolition/construction activity.

Construction sites can also give rise to complaints due to emissions of dust and smoke. Control can be exercised through Nuisances provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 . Typically dust may be generated by use of cutting/grinding equipment or by vehicle movements in dry weather. Smoke can arise from the burning of green waste during site clearance.
Further advice on construction of small developments can be found in the  Construction Code of Practice.pdf [pdf] 2MB
To make a complaint about an alarm going off, please use the report it form, or call 01903 737755. 

Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 

Information on Section 61 applications under the Control of Pollution 1974 (COPA) can be found here.

Licensed premises

Most complaints about licensed premises relate to music, but noise from deliveries and waste/recycling collections, together with equipment such as air conditioning units or fans can also cause problems. Officers investigate these complaints and liaise with the licensees to control the noise. Where necessary enforcement action can be taken to resolve the problem. If you are bothered by noise from licensed premises we can investigate the complaint on your behalf.  The Pollution Team also acts as ’Responsible Authority’ under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003 with a view to preventing public nuisance from licensed premises. Applications for new premises licences are made to the licensing department. Officers consider the premises licence applications and make representations regarding any measures considered necessary to prevent public nuisance, including noise nuisance, from the operation of the premises.  Further information about the Licensing Act and the Council’s role as Licensing Authority is available on our Licensing pages.

Clay pigeon shooting 

The sport of clay pigeon shooting can result in noise disturbance for neighbours.  The CIEH has released some guidance on the subject.

The main control measures should include:

  • Informing affected people in advance of the shooting activity
  • Carrying out the shoot at reasonable times, in order not to disturb local residents
  • Controlling the number of shooting stands and and people shooting
  • Using noise buffer zones and noise barriers to mitigate the noise

If you are disturbed by noise from clay pigeon shooting, please contact the shoot organiser in the first instance. If this does not resolve the problem, please call us on 01903 737755 or use the report it form

Bird scarers 

Bird scarers are devices used by farmers to deter birds from their early crops. However, if used inconsiderately the noise from bird scarers can be very annoying and can be considered a Statutory Nuisance. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has issued guidance on the use of bird scarers. This guidance includes:

  • Only using the scarer between sunrise (or 6am if the sun rises earlier) and sunset
  • Not firing the machine more than 4 times an hour.
  • Positioning the device for effectiveness and methods of screening.
  • Trying not to use scarers on a Sunday.

If a complaint is received about noise from a bird scarer, we will try to identify the land upon which it is situated and trace the owner. The time taken in dealing with the complaint will be reduced if these details are known when the problem is reported. If the farmer is complying with the recommendations of the NFU Code of Practice it is unlikely that formal action will be possible.

Please also see Seagull Nuisance and Advice