What is the law concerning Nuisance problems?

What is the law concerning nuisance problems?

Under certain circumstances the Council can stop many types of nuisance problems from continuing.  The relevant legal provisions for investigating and stopping nuisances are in Part III of the Environmental Act 1990.  These include neighbour noise such as loud music and barking dogs, smoke from bonfires, odour from industrial premises and excessively bright lights.

Nuisance problems that may be dealt with by the Council are legally known as ‘statutory nuisances’. It is not possible to be precise as to the definition of a statutory nuisance, because reference must be made to past decisions by judges in various legal cases that have concerned nuisance problems. However, in very general terms, a statutory nuisance is a problem which interferes substantially and unreasonably with a person’s wellbeing, comfort or the enjoyment of his/her property.

What is the legal remedy for dealing with nuisance problems?

Where we are satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, a formal notice, known as an ‘abatement notice’, will normally be served upon the person responsible for causing the nuisance. Such abatement notices require the nuisance to be stopped and will often specify the steps required to achieve this. The requirements must of course be reasonable and proportionate; an appeals procedure is available to the person(s) served with an abatement notice.

It is an offence to contravene an abatement notice without reasonable excuse and the person responsible may be prosecuted and a substantial fine imposed. In certain cases, direct action to stop the nuisance can also be taken. This might, for example, include the seizure of noise-making equipment or entry in to an unattended vehicle to silence a malfunctioning alarm.

For further information on types of nuisance problems such as noise, bonfire smoke, light pollution and fireworks, please click on to the relevant documents at the side of this page.

If you require any further advice or assistance, please contact:

Environment Protection Team
Telephone:  01264 368000
Email:  envhealth@testvalley.gov.uk