Newham Borough, located just five miles east of the City of London, has experienced huge amounts of regeneration and redevelopment over the last twenty years through government investment schemes for Newham and the surrounding boroughs.
The redevelopment has successfully attracted a younger age group as well as several different cultures from all over London, resulting in under 25 year olds making up over 40 per cent of the 254,000 residents living in Newham.
Muhammad Islam, Senior Environmental Health Officer at Newham Council’s Noise and Nuisance team, explains: “The diversity within Newham Borough makes it a vibrant and exciting place to live, however, this amalgamation of different cultures and younger lifestyles can provide challenges and the Council has seen a steady influx of noise nuisance complaints, the most common being: continuous barking dogs, car doors slamming at night, loud music or televisions, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities.
Newham Borough Council gets, on average, around 20 noise nuisance complaints a week from residents (an average of 6,000 a year). The hardest part of our job is to decide whether these claims are worth pursuing, as not all are considered a noise nuisance and they can potentially be a drain on council resources.”
Councils and local authorities across the UK have slightly different adaptations and approaches to enforcing noise nuisance. There is no set guideline for noise or frequency of decibel (dB) levels that residents have to follow and it is up to the individual councils and boroughs to use their own judgement and discretion to adhere to Section 80 under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for Statutory Noise Nuisances and Clean Air2.
In most scenarios, local authorities and councils like Newham Borough, advise that in reported cases of noise nuisances, the resident approaches the individual responsible directly, which more often than not, results in both parties coming to an amicable agreement. However, sometimes this approach doesn’t always work and the next suggested step is an independent third party mediation procedure.
If the noise nuisance persists and informal action fails to resolve the problem, a formal complaint needs to be implemented; residents then approach the Noise and Nuisance team to investigate directly, which involves regular visits from a Noise Officer.
At this stage, a Noise Officer needs access to the resident’s property to assess where the reported noise nuisance is coming from and record the noise levels over a 7-10 day period. This is to decide whether it constitutes a statutory noise nuisance and to agree whether further action is required.
Muhammad Islam explains, “In these instances we would use a noise nuisance recorder. It is an extremely valuable piece of equipment for local authorities and housing associations, as it provides the means of monitoring whether a noise complaint by a local resident is credible. The results that we gather from the noise monitoring instrument give us a clear idea of whether the noise nuisance report is legitimate and whether or not we issue an abatement notice.”
To help obtain vital information and record concise and clear data to support noise nuisance cases, Newham Borough Council has recently invested in four Trojan Noise Nuisance Recorders from Cirrus Research. The Trojan helps local authorities and housing associations provide quick and accurate noise measurements to support noise nuisance cases and it is supplied in a discreet backpack, allowing the officer who installs the Trojan to leave with the same backpack, so as not to arouse the suspicion of neighbours.
Muhammad Islam concludes: “Previous noise nuisance recorders have been very complex to use, making it difficult for members of the Noise and Nuisance team to configure the instruments to their specific requirements. It is vital that a noise measurement instrument is simple to use and that the measured noise is accurate. The Trojan does just that; it is simple to use and has the functionality that is necessary for noise nuisance to be accurately measured. When the instrument is inside the small black box it is connected to an interface. When this is connected, the instrument recognises that it is plugged in and switches to noise nuisance mode. This configures the instrument automatically to give the functions and features needed, removing the need for any setup or configuration. The Trojan has saved the Council and residents a substantial amount of time and money!”
For further information on the Trojan please contact Cirrus Research on 0845 230 2434 or visit www.cirrus-trojan.co.uk