Investigation of Noise Complaint – Dumfries and Galloway | Arcus Consultancy Services


Investigation of Noise Complaint – Dumfries and Galloway

Client – Solicitor

Scope – An investigation of noise at a residential property was undertaken to determine whether noise from a nearby milking shed constituted a statutory nuisance.  The main legislation relating to Statutory Nuisance is the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990).  This states that in order for a Statutory Nuisance to exist, the matter must be either prejudicial to health or a nuisance.  For a nuisance to exist, the effects must be more than would be ordinarily tolerable.   When undertaking this assessment, a number of factors were taken into account when deciding whether a nuisance existed, as follows:


  • Impact: this may be, but does not need to be, supported by objective measurements;
  • Locality: the potential for nuisance is largely related to the character of the neighbourhood;
  • Time: the degree of impact may depend on the time at which it occurs;
  • Frequency: a nuisance is more likely to exist where the effect occurs frequently or continuously;
  • Duration: in general, short-term events are less likely to constitute a nuisance than longer-term of continuous events;
  • Convention: the existence of a widespread practice or common usage;
  • Importance: the importance of an activity in respect of the community is a key consideration, and should be considered along with the avoidability of the impact and the principle of best practicable means; and
  • Avoidability: whether reasonable steps have been taken to minimise the impact.


The assessment undertaken included a noise survey to determine both the background sound level at the residential property, and the specific sound level of the noise being emitted by the milking parlour.  Using these measurements, an assessment of the noise was undertaken according to BS 4142 and the WHO Guidelines for Community Noise, in addition to the nuisance factors listed above.  Overall, it was found that there was a strong case to argue that the operation of the milking shed constitutes a nuisance.

Solution – One of the main factors in determining whether the noise constituted a nuisance was the avoidability of the noise.  As such, a number of potential noise control measures were specified which would reduce the levels of noise at the nearby residential property.  These include engineering methods, such as acoustic louvres and attenuators to be installed at ventilation openings, and management of traffic to site.

For more information on the investigation of noise complaints, please see our BS4142 Noise assessment page, or contact the team on