NSCA calls for action as noise complaints rise

Nuisance, in all its forms, is a major concern for local authorities, their environmental health departments, and the waste managements services sector across the UK. In our annual focus on nuisance prevention and control, LAWE reviews a range of key topics and how to deal with them, including, noise, odour and pest and vermin control.

Highly topical in this first article are the results of the latest Noise Survey conducted by the NSCA.

New research* published on Noise Action Day2, by the environmental protection charity NSCA, finds that complaints about noise continue to increase, and local authority officers across the UK are calling for sufficient means to manage noise effectively

The NSCA Noise Survey 2004 found that:

  • Complaints about noise are increasing for over half of the areas surveyed.
  • Amplified music, barking dogs and pubs and clubs remain the most common causes of complaint (except in Northern Ireland, where dogs are the biggest problem).
  • Lack of communication between neighbours is blamed for the high level of complaints, many of which are triggered by other issues with neighbours.
  • Better education on noise expectation and tolerance are crucial in tackling complaints.
  • Local authority noise management services need a higher profile to enable efficient resolution of complaints (MORI Research in 2003 found that more people complained to the police about noise.)
  • At least a third of local authorities support the implementation of statutory registration of intruder alarms.

Complaints increasing

“Our survey shows that noise complaints are still on the increase,” commented NSCA Secretary General Richard Mills. The local authority officers responsible for noise think that poor relations between neighbours and unrealistic expectations about the noise environment are often at the root of the problem. Noise Action Day aimed (27 May) to mitigate the effects by promoting practical solutions to everyday noise problems

“Many people complain to the police, who have no power over noise. A higher profile for local authority noise management services is now essential to help effective dispute resolution” he added.

Targets for tranquillity

The NSCA has set out “Ten Targets for Tranquillity”, action on which need to be taken now to achieve a healthy noise climate for the UK.


A National Noise Strategy to ensure a positive approach to noise management, and prevent further erosion of the UK’s remaining tranquil areas in both urban and rural environments.


A Neighbour Noise Strategy with achievable targets for the soundscape of the local environment.


Local authorities to develop strategies in partnership with other agencies, eg police, highways and housing.


Wider use of arbitration to help resolve neighbour noise disputes.


More emphasis on road noise reduction including barriers, quieter road surfaces, tyre noise as well as vehicle use (eg improved legislation for in car entertainment systems).


Get noise on the curriculum – education in schools on the health and social impacts of noise and community relations.


Statutory registration of intruder alarms across the UK.


Improved, enforceable standards of sound insulation in new and existing buildings.


Replace the outdated concept of “statutory nuisance” with the more readily comprehensible “reasonable cause for annoyance”.

Praising the range of activities taking place across the country to mark this year’s Noise Action Day, DEFRA Minister, Lord Whitty, said: “Tackling noise pollution is a priority for government, and also for the public.” He continued: “We are currently developing a National Ambient Noise Strategy for England. This will provide the framework for government action to manage noise, as well as providing a valuable tool for local authorities dealing with noise issues locally.”

*NSCA Noise Survey 2004 – full results available by email at [email protected] Website: www.nsca.org.uk

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