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Dealing with a noise complaint

Local residents are complaining about noise, what should I do?

Q:  I run a pub in a rural location and every Saturday night we have a live band which results in the premises becoming very busy indeed.  Some local residents have moved in next door and have started complaining about noise from these events.  We have tried talking to them but they have said that they simply want our premises to close.  We have also been contacted by our local Environmental Health Officer, who is threatening to issue a Noise Abatement Notice (“NAN”).  What should we do?

A:  It is important to act quickly in these circumstances to try and arrive at a solution which both works for your business and also results in the local residents not being disturbed. 

Once a NAN is served you will be at risk of prosecution for breaching it in the event that there are further problems.  You do have a right of appeal within 21 days of service of the notice and you should seek immediate legal advice if one lands.  The grounds for appealing such a notice are quite narrow but it may provide some leverage in negotiations with the Environmental Health Officer. 

It is also worthy of note that you may be at risk of a Review of the premises licence either by the local residents themselves or through the Environmental Health Officer. 

The best thing to do is to sit down round a table with all parties and try to agree some measure to alleviate any noise breakout on these events.  Some Environmental Health Officers are prepared to give good pro-active advice in an attempt to resolve issues but others will simply leave it to you to sort it out.  Should the latter happen then you may need to engage the services of an acoustic consultant to advise you on the necessary measures to be taken in order to alleviate the problems. 

Both reviews and any dealings with a NAN can become very costly from a legal perspective so it is imperative to try to nip the problem in the bud.

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