Environmental Protection – Noise Pollution

Environmental Protection Act 1990

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 defines the notions of pollution of the environment.

Pollution of the environment

This is defined as:

‘pollution of the environment due to the release (into any environmental medium) from any process of substances which are capable of causing harm to man or any other living organisms supported by the environment.’

Therefore in order to prove pollution of the environment under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 we need to show that harm has been caused from a process being released.

Noise Pollution

The process being released in relation to noise pollution is an unnecessary and excessive noise being released into the air. Noise pollution of varying degrees and from varying sources is a continual problem and one which is increasing amongst today’s society.

Section III Environmental Protection Act – Statutory Nuisances

Section III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 creates various statutory nuisances in relation to but not limited to the following:

  • Premises that are prejudicial to health
  • Smoke emitted from premises
  • Fumes or gas emitted from premises
  • Noise emitted from premises

Statutory Nuisance – Noise

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 defines statutory nuisance in relation to noise as noise emitted from premises that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

Statutory Nuisance Act 1993

Noise in the Street

The Environmental Protection Act is further qualified by the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 by including noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street within the definition of statutory nuisance.

The Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act however makes a specific exclusion of noise made by traffic in the streets from the definition of statutory nuisance.

Operation of Loudspeakers in the Street

Under the Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 the operation of loudspeakers in the street between the hours of 9pm and 8am will be considered a statutory nuisance.

The operation of loudspeakers in the street for the purposes of advertising will be considered to be a statutory nuisance at any time of the day.

Intruder Alarms

Under Section 77 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 an officer of a local authority has the power to enter a premises without force in relation to an intruder alarm in the following circumstances:

  • If the alarm has been sounding continuously for more than twenty minutes or intermittently for more than one hour
  • If the sounding of the alarm is likely to give persons living or working in the vicinity of the premises reasonable cause for annoyance
  • If the premises are in an alarm notification area, that reasonable steps have been taken to get the nominated key-holder to silence the alarm 

Who Investigates claims of noise pollution?

Action in relation to claims of noise pollution is taken by the local authority and proceedings are issued by an abatement notice.

Fireworks Act 2003

Curfew

The Fireworks Act 2003 creates a curfew on the use of adult fireworks between 11pm and 7am which brings it into line with the Noise Act 1996. There is however an exception to this rule extending the ban in the evenings for various times of the year which is as follows:

  • November 5th (Bonfire Night) – 12 midnight
  • New Years Eve – 1am
  • Chinese New Year – 1am
  • Diwali Night – 1 am

Limit on Noise

The Fireworks Act also imposed a limit on the decibels of certain fireworks. For example category three fireworks have to have a decibel limit of 120.