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Noise > Environmental > Statutory/Noise Nuisance 5
"Failure" of the Local Authority
Mainly UK content

What to do if the Local Authority can't/wont take action

As previously mentioned, given the costs of taking statutory nuisance actions, residents mainly look to their local authority to take action.  Unfortunately, it is reasonably common for complainants to be dissatisfied with the actions of local authorities.  This sections looks at the possible reasons and provides some guidance.

Firstly, we understand that a local authority cannot take action against itself; for example if the Leisure Services Department of Anytown District Council arranges a noisy four day musical festival, the only option for affected residents may be to take an action against Anytown DC possibly under Section 82; if appropriate, we understand that you may be able to subpoena the Local Authority's own Officers to give evidence.

Secondly, let us assume that the noise is being made by some one other than the local authority, but that in your opinion the local authority has failed to investigate the matter properly; for example, the upstairs flat often play loud music from 2  to 4 am, but the local authority say that they have neither the capability to attend at night nor to install a digital tape recorder system (commonly used and relatively cheap) and therefore they suggest you take you own action; you could

  1. Make a complaint under Schedule 3 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 to the Secretary of State, regarding the failure of the local authority to investigate the complaints of nuisance.
  2. There may also be scope for a complaint to the local government ombudsman on the grounds that the local authority’s failure to investigate properly amounts to maladministration. We understand that complaining to the Ombudsman costs nothing, but that any judgements are not binding on the local authority.

A third possibility is that the local authority has investigated the matter properly but in the opinion of the residents has reached a "perverse" decision; for example, a factory produces noise at the weekend, which the local authority monitor but don't consider it to be a nuisance; it would be possible take action under provisions such as Section 82.  But any one taking such action should be aware of both of the issue of costs and  that the noise maker could subpoena the Local Authority Officers to give evidence on their behalf; there is a tendency for the Courts to perceive the Local Authority as independent arbiters and therefore it can be difficult to overcome/overturn a Local Authority view that any given noise is not a nuisance.

On to Schedule 3 >>>

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