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That’s not music, it’s just a noise

Top Tips to help reduce the risk of noise complaints

We have all heard comments like this and no matter what your personal preference may be, from Bach to Bieber, all music and sound produced by entertainment can be considered noise under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

As summer gets in to full swing it is inevitable that many premises will seek to maximise their holiday revenue by providing a variety of entertainment. With any luck there will be some warm weather to help with the festivities and premises will open their doors to welcome customers and let in the refreshing summer breeze.

Unfortunately your residential neighbours may also be relaxing in their gardens and Mr Bieber may not be their preferred choice of entertainment.

All premises must consider the potential impact that noise, music or otherwise, generated by their premises could have on their neighbours as a noise complaint could be made resulting in a section 80 noise Abatement Notice being issued. If such a notice is not withdrawn, appealed or suspended, any future breach could lead to a criminal prosecution and a potentially unlimited fine.

There are a number of options available to help reduce the risk of noise complaints and ensure a successful summer’s trading:

  • Notify neighbours of proposed one off events and provide a point of contact to ensure that a positive relationship is maintained;
  • Consider any existing restrictions or conditions on your premises licence, which may already prescribe the measures you should have in place to control or limit the escape of music (noise) from your venue;
  • Be proactive when addressing any noise issues raised by neighbours or your local Environmental Health Officer;
  • Seek advice early from your local Environmental Health Department;
  • Consider obtaining advice from an acoustic expert to look at any potential systems you could implement to reduce the risk of noise escape. Sound monitors and environmental noise control systems come in a variety of types with costs ranging from around £300 to over a thousand. The following systems can be considered depending upon your particular set up and requirements:
  • Noise warning systems can be used to monitor noise levels. Systems may use a traffic light system to display the sound level produced compared to your preselected level. These types of monitor may be a cheaper option where a noise limiting device is not required:
  • A sound attenuation system can be used to continually monitor sound levels and automatically reduce the volume if a pre-set limit is exceeded.
  • A sound monitoring and mains power switching unit can be used which disconnects the power to sound equipment if a limit is breached for a certain length of time. If your venue provides live bands, they may be able to connect their equipment into a power source controlled by this type of device.

Loud noise from live or recorded music could lead to restrictions being applied to your premises licence, despite the recent deregulation of such entertainment under the Live Music Act 2012. Therefore appropriate steps should be taken that will hopefully ensure a profitable and problem free summer.

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