Noise is Environmental Pollution

How Big is the Noise Pollution Problem in Yorkshire

For ambient noise according to DfE some of the worst polluted locations around the UK include Hull, Sheffield and the whole of West Yorkshire. It is harder to measure excessive noise other than on a case by case basis but on a recent survey of complaints:

  • Doncaster was firmly ahead for noisy neighbourhoods with 6,231 complaints in a year just over 20 complaints per 1,000 head.
  • Leeds came second with 12,295 complaints equivalent of 16 complaints per 1,000 population. Third was Rotherham with 2,551 complaints or just under 10 complaints per 1,000.
  • Rural areas didn’€™t escape completely. Rydale saw 177 complainants within a population of just over 52,000 (so 3 complaints per 1,000) and Richmond had 195 complaints within its population of 53,900 (4 complaints per 1,000).
  • Hambleton, North Yorkshire was almost idyllic with only 5 complaints  data from Cirrius Research

Church bells are to win protection under new planning rules to stop people who move into towns and villages forcing councils to silence them.     Nimbys loose out    Churches have repeatedly had to comply with noise abatement orders to silence church bells after complaints from often only a handful of homeowners despite the fact that they have tolled for decades.  However, ministers have now decided that churches should not have “unreasonable restrictions put on them because of changes in nearby land uses since they were established” because new homes are built near them. Even though their bells have chimed for centuries, churches across the country have been slapped with night-time noise abatement orders after complaints from just a handful of neighbours.

Traffic and airport noise are more subject to planning restrictions as a means of preemptive enforcement. Nimbys are restricted in what complaints they can successfully pursue.

The Law and Pollution Control

  • Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution.
  • The police can deal with a complaint if the noise amounts to a breach of the peace, or where it is associated with threatening, violent or other anti-social behaviour.
  • Noise nuisance laws do not apply to noise from traffic or planes, demonstrations about a cause or premises occupied by the armed forces.
  • Councils are responsible for looking into complaints about noise from premises and gardens such as alarms, loud music or barking dogs etc. Councils are also responsible for noisy vehicles, construction work, machinery or equipment in the street (for example, music from car stereos).
  • Permitted noise levels are 10 decibels (dBA) above the underlying level of noise above 24 dBA


In 2017 the noise abatement society awards highly commended Kirklees Council’s Environmental Health team for work with Planning Enforcement and Development Control colleagues. Noise complaints from housing estates developed in close proximity to industrial premises are problematic but overhauled planning application conditions were designed to help.

In the previous year  Sheffield City Council’s night noise service became untenable. A new ‘Night Time Enforcement Team’ for complaints outside the normal remit of the Environmental Protection Act was established to provide a ‘One stop shop’ dealing with issues affecting the wider community during the night time.

What is Noise

  • What individuals consider to be noise is unwanted or unpleasant sounds that are mood altering, or at an uncomfortable level due to duration, volume of sound or time of day.
  • Noise can damage hearing, disrupts sleep, annoys in everyday life. The wrong noise interferes with concentration, conversation, relaxation, work and leisure.
  • Excessive noise at work can give suffers deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions.
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