General noise nuisance

Noise is sound which is unwelcome and can cause distress, annoyance or disturbance to unwilling listeners. District councils and some government agencies are responsible for investigating noise complaints.

Noise categories

Environmental noise is caused by industry and traffic. Domestic neighbours and public entertainment venues can create a noise nuisance.

Noise is categorised as:

  • occupational – unwanted sound in the workplace, indoors or outdoors caused by activity in the workplace
  • community – unwanted sound outside the workplace can be indoors or outdoors, caused by sources you cannot control and includes noise caused by neighbours
  • consumer products – unwanted sound from a device or product which you use and may have some control over

Noise sources

When you want to complain about noise, you need to identify the source and find out if there is an organisation responsible for investigating the noise source.

There are various noise sources:

  • industrial noise includes agriculture, manufacturing businesses and workshops
  • commercial and leisure noise includes entertainment, sports and leisure, petrol stations, car washes, fast food outlets, bars, restaurants, offices, security alarms
  • domestic noise includes home entertainment such as loud music and television, parties, animal noise, shouting, home security alarms
  • construction noise includes building, demolition and road works
  • transport noise includes road traffic, railways, domestic air traffic, military aircraft, delivery vehicles, vehicle alarms
  • street noise includes loudspeakers, ice cream van chimes, street traders, performers and public addresses

District councils have authority to investigate:

  • commercial and leisure noise
  • domestic noise
  • street noise
  • construction noise at demolition sites, building sites and quarries

District councils and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency can investigate complaints about industrial noise from different types of premises.

There are different organisations responsible for complaints about traffic and transport.

Complaining about noise in your neighbourhood

Complete silence is impossible in rural or urban settings. Even in your own home, you don’t have an absolute right to silence. There are some noise sources you cannot complain about such as ambulance, fire brigade or police sirens.

Your district council can investigate complaints about community and neighbourhood noise which includes noise caused by entertainment venues.

If you complain about noise, your district council can assess the volume and frequency of a noise source and decide if the noise is a nuisance, as defined by statute.

Complaining about noise from a factory

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency and district councils can investigate complaints about industrial noise which includes factories and waste plants.

Complaining about traffic noise

Road Service is responsible for complaints about noise from road traffic or road works. If a passing car or road vehicle causes too much noise, you can report this to the police.

More useful links

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