What action can the council take and what can the public expect from us?

In most cases the council deals with noise/smoke/odour/dust problems by assessing whether the problem is unreasonable.  Officers take into account factors such as:

  • loudness (noise)
  • time of day
  • how often it occurs
  • how many people are affected
  • how long it lasts.

Noise/smoke/odour/dust which is assessed as unreasonable by council officers is then dealt with as a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Complainants should be aware that we must witness the problem before taking formal action, and if evidence of a statutory nuisance is obtained the law requires us to serve an abatement notice on the person(s) responsible. The scope of the notice will vary with different circumstances and may require an immediate stop or prohibit a repeat of the problem. In cases where some works are necessary, time for compliance may be specified. Please see our Noise Nuisance leaflet [PDF 234kb] for more information

How to make a complaint

If the problem continues after an abatement notice has been served

Failure to comply with an abatement notice is a criminal offence and the council can prosecute. 

  • for domestic noise/smoke/dust a fine of up to £5,000 with a fine of £500 a day for each day that the problem continues after conviction can be imposed by the court (odour cannot be dealt with as a nuisance in a domestic setting)
  • noise/smoke/odour/dust from an industrial, trade or business premises can attract a maximum fine of £20,000.
  • with regards to noise the council has powers when authorised by the Courts to seize any noise making equipment such as stereo systems or musical instruments.
  • if a car or premises alarm has to be switched off by the council the costs incurred are passed on to the owners-this can be several hundred pounds.

Our promise to you - what to expect from us

We will provide free professional advice, guaranteed response times and a thorough investigation of your complaint.

The investigating officer will provide you with their name and office telephone number and will fully explain the courses of action that can be considered and keep you informed of any action that may be taken.

Our target response times for such complaints are set out in our Service Commitment and are summarised as follows:

  • for complaints about car or intruder alarms we have a 24 hour response.    
  • for other noise complaints and smoke/odour/dust we will initiate an investigation within four working days.    
  • the council cannot provide immediate responses to all noise problems outside office hours unless the noise is causing widespread public nuisance.

In practice we meet these targets for over 95% of complaints.

Contacting us

If you would like advice or information from an Environmental Health Officer, you can telephone us on (01273) 294266

Or call into:
Brighton Town Hall
Street map: Bartholomew Square

Hove Town Hall
Street map: Hove Town Hall

If you need to contact someone out of office hours, an emergency service is available on (01273) 292229.