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Noise Nuisance

Generally, noise can be defined as any unwanted sound. Noise could occur unexpectedly, or be too loud or repetitive. At certain decibels, it can be hazardous to health, with low frequency noise as damaging as loud noise. Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution, and is a major source of stress.

When Northumbria University receive a report of behaviour, which is classed as antisocial in the wider community, we will always consider the concerns where it has been identified that Northumbria students are involved. Please see our ASB Protocol for further information about what this means.

The process of determining what level of noise constitutes a nuisance can be quite subjective. For instance, the level of noise, its length and timing may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether a nuisance has actually occurred. In relation to students living in the Community, Northumbria will always investigate when a member of the public complains that they are subject to noise levels that are unacceptable, and are examples of antisocial behaviour.

Councils can investigate complaints of statutory nuisance to tackle noise produced at any time of day or night. But they may also issue warning notices in response to complaints about noise above permitted levels from 11pm to 7am. These warning notices can be used by councils for noise that’s not a statutory nuisance. It is complaints of noise at night that are more commonly received by Universities about the students living in the community.

If the council thinks the noise still exceeds the permitted level after the specified period and wants to prosecute, they must measure the noise level from within the dwelling of the person who has complained.

If someone doesn’t comply with a warning notice without a reasonable excuse, councils can:

  • give a fixed penalty notice (FPN) giving them the chance to pay a fine (up to £110 for dwellings and £500 for licensed premises) within 14 days, instead of being prosecuted
  • prosecute them if they don’t issue an FPN or if the person responsible doesn’t pay the fine on time (if convicted they can get a fine of up to £1,000 for dwellings and an unlimited amount for licensed premises)
  • remove noise-making equipment like loudspeakers

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