Noise complaints are investigated under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011. This legislation enables the Council to deal with a noise disturbance if they think it is causing a nuisance to a person, or people living nearby.
There is no specific level of noise that constitutes a noise nuisance. When considering whether or not a noise nuisance exists, the Council will consider the loudness of the noise, when the noise occurs, how often the noise occurs, the effect on the person affected by the noise and the likely reaction of the average person to the noise. If the Council is satisfied that a noise nuisance exists, they will serve a Noise Abatement notice on the person responsible for making the noise, requesting them to minimise it. Non-compliance with the noise abatement notice can result in formal action in the magistrate's court.
Noise is very subjective i.e. something which annoys one person may be hardly noticed by another person e.g. loud music during the day may disturb someone who works a night shift and is trying to sleep, but may not cause disturbance to others. Similarly, a barking dog at night may not annoy its owner but may cause great disturbance to the neighbours.
How Do I Report a Noise Complaint?
If your complaint relates to a noise nuisance in the Antrim and Newtownabbey area please report it using our online form.
Anonymous complaints will not be formally investigated.
What Happens When I Make a Noise Complaint?
The first course of action will be to try and deal with the problem informally. The Council will contact the person responsible for causing the noise and give them advice of how to prevent or limit the noise problem. If this approach is unsuccessful, the Council will proceed with a formal investigation
What Noise Problems Does the Council Investigate?
The Council will investigate complaints about the following noise sources:
Common complaints include barking dogs, loud music and DIY work. If you are concerned about the noise levels from a neighbouring property, the best course of action is normally to approach the neighbour about the problem. They may not be aware that they are causing a disturbance and will then take steps to remove or reduce the noise problem.
Industrial /Commercial Noise
Noise levels from industrial and commercial premises should be controlled at a suitable level so as not to cause a nuisance to others. Businesses should take reasonable and practical steps to reduce noise levels to a minimum.
Occasionally construction site noise can cause a nuisance for neighbouring householders and/or businesses. If a noise nuisance does occur, Environmental Health Officers can restrict the use of certain equipment, the hours of operation and if necessary set noise limits for the construction work.
Public Entertainment Noise
Domestic premises close to a public entertainment venue can sometimes be disturbed by noise nuisance arising from the music within the premises and/or the patrons entering and leaving the premises. The Entertainments licence of the venue will specify conditions to ensure that unreasonable disturbance is not caused to nearby residents. Non-compliance with these conditions could result in the licence being removed.
Also known as “bangers” and “gas guns”, these are devices that farmers use to protect crops from the unwanted attention of birds. Although considered to be an essential aid to deterring birds, if they are used inconsiderately the noise can be both ineffective in disturbing birds and extremely annoying to local residents and as such, could potentially be a statutory noise nuisance.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) has issued advice to farmers using these devices, to try and avoid causing nuisance. Further information is available by downloading the NFU advice leaflet found at;
If a complaint is received regarding noise from a bird scarer, the Environmental Health, Protection and Development Service will try and identify the land upon which it is situated and trace the owner. The time taken in dealing with such a complaint will be reduced if these details are known when the problem is reported.
In past complaint investigations it is generally been found that the timer on the scarer has malfunctioned or set to fire too often, causing excessive numbers of ‘bangs’. The farmer can usually rectify these faults quickly and easily. Difficulties can however, arise if we are unable to find the position of the scarer or the owner of the device.
Ice Cream Chimes
It is an offence to sound your chimes before 12.00 noon or after 7.00 pm. It is also an offence to sound your chimes in such a way as to give reasonable cause for annoyance.
A code of practice approved by the Government gives guidance on methods of minimising annoyance caused by ice-cream chimes. The main points of the code of practice are:
Do not sound chimes:
1. for longer than 4 seconds at a time;
2. more often than once every 3 minutes;
3. when the vehicle is stationary;
4. except on approach to a selling point;
5. when in sight of another vehicle which is trading;
6. when within 50 metres of schools (during school hours), hospitals, and places of worship (on Sundays and other recognised day of worship);
7. more often than once every 2 hours in the same length of street;
8. louder than 80 dB(A) at 7.5 metres;
9. as loudly in quiet areas or narrow streets as elsewhere.
Following a complaint, we will contact the business owner and provide advice on the code of practice, if this has no effect in resolving the complaint we will usually commence a formal noise complaint investigation.
Vehicles, machinery and equipment
We can investigate noise complaints about noise coming from a vehicle, machinery and equipment in the street. If a noise nuisance exists, the Council can serve a noise abatement notice on the person responsible. Failure to comply with a noise abatement notice is an offence.
Council is however not responsible for the investigation of general traffic noise from vehicles travelling on the roads. Complaints about the condition of individual vehicles e.g. excessively loud exhausts should be referred to the Police Service.
Scramblers and Quad Bikes
Noise from scramblers or quad bikes can be disturbing for nearby residents. Noise from these bikes can travel a considerable distance and be very intrusive. In addition, the bikes are generally used in good weather when neighbours want to enjoy their garden.
Scramblers and quad bikes are off-road vehicles that can only be used on private land with permission of the land owner. A noise nuisance can be caused even if the person has the landowner’s permission.
The Council can take action against the person using the bike as well as the landowner.
On receipt of a complaint, the Council will contact the landowner and give them advice on how to prevent or limit the noise problem. You may be asked to complete a noise monitoring form. If the forms are returned and it shows that a noise nuisance may exist, then we will attempt to gather evidence, either through a personal visit or by setting up noise monitoring equipment at your home to record and measure the noise.
If the Council is satisfied that a Noise Nuisance exists we can serve a Noise Abatement Notice on the land owner and/or the person using the bike. Landowners who have not given their permission for their land to be used by these bikes can take steps to prevent access to their land, including:
- Securing all points of access to the land
- Erecting signs prohibiting trespass and the use of motorcycles
- Visiting the land at times when it is being used to advise those responsible for the nuisance that such use of the land is not permitted
- In some cases, having the land ploughed has discouraged use
The Council has no legal powers to deal with complaints about noise caused by civil or military aircraft. This includes noise from flights in to and out of Belfast International Airport, any military planes, helicopters or other low-flying aircraft.
Complaints can be made to the following organisations:
Belfast International Airport 028 9448 4848
Civil Aviation Authority – 020 73797311 www.caa.co.uk