Noise Pollution Books Review

We’ve reviewed all of the available reference materials so that you don’t have to. Here’s a summary of the noise pollution books that we like and/or use regularly ourselves followed by a short review of each.

Noise Pollution Books – Summary

Statutory Nuisance by Robert McCracken, Gregory Jones and James PareiraA process-led journey through the application of the statutory nuisance framework. Suitable for anyone studying, enforcing or practising statutory nuisance.Available Here
Statutory Nuisance: Law and Practice by Rosalind Malcolm and John PointingA comprehensive legal reference for anyone studying, enforcing or practising statutory nuisance. Includes chapters on the specific nuisances, including noise.Available Here
The Little Red Book of Acoustics: A Practical Guide by R Watson and Owen DowneyOne of the best all-round references to acoustics. Suitable for acousticians, noise professionals and anyone else interested in understanding and applying the dark-art.Available Here
Anti-social Behaviour: The New Law by Kuljit BhogalA useful point of reference for all of the powers introduced by the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Suitable for housing inspectors as well as environmental health professionals.Available Here
noise-nuisance-book-reviewNoise Nuisance: How to Tackle a Noisy NeighbourA reference manual for anyone affected by noise or nuisance from neighouring property. Suitable for anyone suffering from noise.Available Here

Statutory Nuisance by Robert McCracken, Gregory Jones and James Pareira

A little easier to consume than Malcolm and Pointings’ text, McCracken and Pareira have put together a clear and methodical guide to the statutory nuisance legal process and mechanisms. It is now on it’s third edition, published in 2012.

The format follows the legal process from service through to appeal and costs. It offers a different style of text than Malcolm and Pointings’ book, containing less information on the background and origins of statutory nuisance; and less guidance as on interpretation and the individual nuisances. However, it is much more accessible and well set-out. Highly recommended.

Statutory Nuisance: Law and Practice by Rosalind Malcolm and John Pointing

There are separate chapters relating to each subsection of nuisance as well as detailed information relating to historial background, evidence and legal process.

Packed throughout with references to cases it provides, with a few exceptions, a strong and reliable interpretation of the law. Whilst the latest changes to associated legislation, such as that relating to anti-social behaviour, are not yet mentioned it is an extremely useful reference book for any practitioner. The book is much more academic in style than McCracken’s.

The Little Red Book of Acoustics: A Practical Guide by R Watson and Owen Downey

As the name would suggest this is a handy quick reference guide to the science of acoustics. Concentrating on environmental and building acoustics the book provides a straight-forward understanding of the physics, measurement, calculation and application of acoustic standards. As with other texts that provide references to the law and associated guidance they can quickly become out of date. Other than that, nobody has a bad word to say about this book.

On it’s 3rd edition now the Little Red Book of Acoustics is a useful reference for building surveyors, planners, EHOs and, of course, acousticians.

Anti-social Behaviour: The New Law by Kuljit Bhogal

A nice little overview of the powers and mechanisms brought about by the Anti-social Behaviour, Policing and Crime Act 2014. Whilst this comes from one of the large legal publishing houses it doesn’t come packed with caselaw and is more of a guide for practitioners than a masterpiece on the interpretation of the law. After providing some background to the introduction of the legislation it works through each of the main legislative powers in turn.

A good starting point for any student or practitioner involved in ASB; including police officers, environmental health, housing officers and social landlords.

Noise Nuisance: How to Tackle a Noisy Neighbour

The most comprehensive guide to noise pollution and noisy neighbour disputes available covering all the main topics. The text is arranged in several chapters providing advice to sufferers of noise nuisance on how to tackle and resolve a wide range of noise issues. Details the law, investigation process and what action can be taken by individuals in an easy and accessible way. Packed full of real-life tips and advice.

Non-academic in style and without the jargon; this is a good all-round reference book for anyone suffering from noise nuisance.

Noise Nuisance Book

Noise Nuisance Book – Tackling a Noisy Neighbour

In this 80 page noise nuisance book we share much of what we’ve learned through our experiences working in noise control. We explain what you need to do to solve your problem and about noise regulation.

Is your neighbour (be that a resident or business) interfering with your peace?
Are you unsure as to what action to take?
Do the local authority appear inactive?

The text, totalling a whopping 30,000 words, is provided in the following chapters:

  • Background, health and sound
  • Where to start
  • Regulation and legislation
  • Complaining about poor service
  • Taking your own action
  • Technical advice
  • Self-help
  • Noise specific advice

The advice given in this book will help provide you with an understanding of the noise investigation process so that you can resolve your noise issue more quickly.

Remember, forewarned is forearmed.

noise guidance

Suitable for most neighbour noise and noise pollution issues including the following types of noise:

  • Alarms
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Barking dogs
  • Concerts and music
  • Construction
  • DIY
  • Industrial noise
  • Loud parties
  • Loud music and televisions
  • Neighbour rows and shouting
  • Plant & equipment
  • Poor sound insulation
  • Pubs and clubs
  • … and many more.

Reviews of the Noisy Neighbour Book

The eBook is a perfect reference for anyone with noise problems. So much so that I’ve told all of my students to download it.

Nahum, University Lecturer

Tells it how it is. The content covers virtually every aspect of the noise complaints process. If I could I’d recommend all our complainants get a copy.

Dom, Environmental Health Officer

Packed full of useful tips and advice. Councils and enforcement officers just don’t provide this sort of stuff and the price is well justified.

Chris, Acoustic Consultant

Using White Noise to Aid Sleep

Not all Sound is Noise

Real white noise isn’t particularly nice or soothing to listen to and sounds a bit like the static you might encounter when skipping to a blank channel on an old-fashioned television (for those of you who haven’t experienced that think of radio space between channels with an analogue signal). There are, however, some more therapeutic sounds that are commonly referred to as white noise that will provide a more suitable ambient tone. Here we will give a brief outline of how noise masking works and how you can use it to aid sleep.

The brain is wired to tap into certain sounds (although it can also be conditioned to do so with some sounds more than others). This is the reason why many people are able to live near to railway lines but not be able to sleep if they can hear the muffled activities of their neighbours. When you use a background noise let’s be clear about what you are doing. In effect, you are masking the unwanted sound from those external sources that bother you with additional sound that you generate yourself (usually with an electronic gizmo or device). Unlike your neighbours, any sound you generate you have complete control of. Most will contain a wide frequency range and, as a result, a wide range of intrusions are masked to varying degrees.

White Noise as a Solution to Background Sound

The solution is not foolproof, is not ideal and is very much a last resort. In the hierarchy of nuisance control removing or minimising the noise at it’s source is always the more preferable option to masking noise. However, noise masking is becoming more popular, particularly in relation to soundscape design. As town planning becomes more and more problematic in densely populated areas architects are introducing some pretty unsophisticated design features; for example, by adding a water fountain into a shared courtyard space to mask traffic noise. In open-office environments fans or air conditioning can also minimise disturbance. The principle is the same. Of course, in these situations masking can generate additional problems and, in some circumstances, can present an ethical or professional dilemma.

When it comes to masking in practice and devices, in order for sleep to be uninterrupted, you need to steer clear of using recordings using your mobile device or music players. Unless you are using them to monitor noise you should keep these sort of distractions out of the bedroom. However, there are some simple purpose-made electrical devices that provide a suitable masking sound; and which are ideal for the sleeping environment. Ideally, in order to be effective, they should generate sound without it being generated via an electronic loop. The Marpac device, for example, generates a tone through the use of a fan. Alternatively, the LectroFan has a range of pre-set tones that do not repeat. Both have been tried and tested with good results and may also be useful to those suffering from problems like tinnitus.

They are available from the following links:

Marpac Dohm DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner
LectroSound LectroFan – Fan Sound and White Noise Machine

We hope this information helps. Find out more about taking your own action to tackle noise nuisance.

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Office Building Conversions – Permitted Development of Class O

Permitted Development of Office Buildings and Noise

We have mentioned previously about recent relaxations to planning laws providing permitted development rights in certain circumstances. This has allowed developers to convert commercial buildings such as office blocks to residential property. Our prediction was that this would result in a number of developments taking place on buildings that would expose future occupants to excess noise. That prediction quickly became a reality. However, the government also introduced an amendment to planning legislation that requires planning authorities to consider the impact that noise generated by existing commercial premises will have on the occupants of the proposed conversion. They will now fall under the prior approval process; where the developer notifies the planning authority of their intention to convert.

Premises Licence holders (including pub co’s) are clearly happy with the changes that have been made as they will (in theory) be less likely to encounter complaints post-build; either because the development will not go ahead, go ahead but be designed to mitigate noise impacts. The change will be equally well received by a number of other noise generating businesses used for commercial or industrial purposes.

There has been a condition added that any development of an office building into flats must now take place within 3 years from the prior approval date.

Despite this, I expect that the developments will still take place under a flight-path, sandwiched between a railway and an A-road.

This webpage provides a lot more detail on the subject of permitted development with respect to Class O.

Find out more about permitted development

Interested in finding out more about permitted development? Visit the planning portal or the Government website for more information.

Jargon Buster – “Serving Notice”

Noise Abatement Notices – Service Please!

Sometimes when you speak to officials and enforcers they often use terms, phrases and code that is unfamiliar to everyday folk. Here at we try to empower victims; and one of the ways we do that is by providing expert knowledge that can be used without needing a doctorate in gobbledegook to understand it. In this post we explain the term “serving notice” in relation to abatement notices.

Statutory notices are used by law enforcers for a wide range of different purposes. Most will require the person (or company) receiving the notice to do something within a specified time period, alongside a threat of a fine or criminal proceedings if they fail to comply with the terms of the notice.

When Noise Becomes a Crime

Noise abatement notices are served by local authority environmental health departments when they are satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists (or is likely to occur or recur). They are served on the person responsible for the noise (usually the person or company making the noise). They will require the statutory nuisance (noise) to be abated or restricted and may include steps that must be taken to achieve compliance (such as restrictions on sound levels or times of operation). They will also include a time limit for abatement (which in many cases can be immediately). Where the recipient fails to comply with the terms of the notice they may face prosecution and a significant fine.

A notice may be appealed by the recipient. In England this will be via the magistrates’ court in the first instance (with a second chance of appeal at Crown Court).

Drafting a notice is not as simple as printing off a standard template (as you would expect with a parking ticket). Some minor issues may be tolerated by an understanding magistrate or judge. However, it is not uncommon for a seemingly simple and inoffensive notice to be quashed due to a small informality or error. The costs to the Council in such cases can be considerable; so it is really important that notices are considered carefully before service. The way it is served is also important.

Having a notice served on the perpetrator will often be good news to the victim. They will know that the recipient has been given a formal “last chance” warning and will be reassured that their complaint is being taken seriously by the local authority. Getting to that point may be difficult though. Stay positive and make use of the many resources provided in our Tutorial (which will help get you to that point more quickly).

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Urban Living, Deprivation and Noise

Urban Living and Noise – the Stats

Living in urban environments ain’t easy; not only are you more likely to suffer from road, rail and aircraft noise you are more likely to complain about neighbour noise (be that from commercial or residential sources). We’ve found that there is a strong relationship between the number of noise complaints and population density.

urban noise pollution - opulation density
urban and rural noise pollution rates

The figures are not surprising; it is something that we know and, to a certain extent, accept. Thankfully local authorities tend to take more enforcement action in the areas that are most affected. So, in urban environments, the rate of notices served is generally higher (and those Councils receiving the most complaints generally take the most action).

What we didn’t expect to find was no relationship between areas of high deprivation and the likelyhood of complaints being received.

noise complaints - deprivation and complaints

However, since we were using the ONS indices, we know that the term “deprivation” is not necessarily just associated with income or wealth but takes into account other factors. Higher levels of rural deprivation, where property values may be lower and levels of unemployment significant, could also be a contributing factor that may balance figures. Furthermore, previous research has shown us that “those with the means” tend to be more likely to take advantage of public services (i.e. complain about noise).

Areas with higher proportions of social housing stock were more likely to experience a higher level of noise complaints. Again though, social housing is more likely to be located in built up areas and in dwellings concentrated in close proximity to each other (i.e. flats).

social housing and noise pollution complaints

The bottom line is though that, rich or poor, noise does not discriminate and affects all walks of life; moreso if you live in an urban environment.

Obtain full details of our research

10 Common Mistakes with Neighbour Noise


Five Common Mistakes by Noise Complainants

  1. Not following clear instructions. If the investigating officer has requested you complete x or do y by a specific time then do it. If you can’t let them know why and agree on alternative arrangements.
  2. Waiting for problems to be fixed by themselves. Be proactive; engage with the investigator, keep them informed at regular intervals and use the services they provide to get the noise witnessed.
  3. Exaggerating Problems or Loosing Perspective. The rule of ‘live and let live’ applies to both parties and the law seeks to balance interests. Avoid frivolous claims or overly sensitive reactions.
  4. Failing to collect evidence. Being asked to keep logs or diaries is not a way of fobbing you off. This sort of evidence, over time, can be essential to demonstrating nuisance.
  5. Giving Up. Persistence is the key with noise. Don’t expect your problem to be fixed immediately; think weeks or months rather than days.

Five Common Mistakes by Noise Enforcers

  1. Failing to provide clear instruction. The investigations process should be set-out and clear expectations established. How else will noise complainants know what they need to know?!
  2. Failing to time-limit an investigation. Alleged noise makers shouldn’t be kept ‘under investigation’ in perpetuity. In addition cases, where no nuisance or justification for formal action could be established, should not be reopened without good reason.
  3. Written hiccups. Statutory notices are often badly worded or easy to pick apart. Admittedly, statutory nuisance is a complex area of the law though. We are always happy to advise.
  4. Reliance on informal action. Whilst there may be an instinct to mediate and advise, enforcers often do so at their peril. Failing to act or getting involved in protracted informal correspondence can easily damage a case.
  5. Reliance on desktop investigations. Officers need to get out there to witness the noise. However, its not always a lazy officer who is to blame; resource management and local politics can also be significant factors.

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Anti-social Behaviour Powers and the Community Trigger

Antisocial Behaviour and Noise

For sufferers of noise nuisance the new anti-social behaviour powers is a mixed bag. Generally speaking the range of new (and amended) mechanisms are likely to be applied in cases that involve anti-social behaviour in a wider sense. However, there are some potential benefits for sufferers and enforcers of noise, including:

  • The potential for the use of Community Protection Notices on party-patrols or ongoing disturbances.
  • The power to close a property for 24-48 hours (extendable) where nuisance is caused to neighbours.
  • The ability for social landlords to apply for civil injunctions for noise related nuisance or annoyance.
  • Breach of injunction, criminal behaviour order, conviction for a serious criminal offence or conviction for breach of noise abatement notice can all lead to a rented or tenanted property being re-possessed by landlords.

(Learn more about antisocial behaviour and the types of antisocial behaviour).

The Community Trigger and Noise

It will take some time for these powers to be understood and applied. In the meantime, there is one other measure that we would like to mention briefly – the Community Trigger. This was introduced to provide a voice to victims who feel that their issue(s) are/were not being dealt with effectively by the agency investigating their concerns. If their application qualifies and meets the minimum threshold it requires the Police and Local Authority (and perhaps housing associations) to review your case and propose an action plan to address the issue(s) you have raised.

For victims it enables their case to be prioritised and reviewed by the relevant enforcement agencies (who are expected to work together rather than in isolation).

You must have made three complaints to any one agency within the last 6 months. The behaviour complained of must have caused “harassment, alarm or distress”, so it is important that you emphasise how the problem has affected you within that context. If you are particularly sensitive for whatever reason or, for example, have health issues these may also be taken into account.

Make sure that you follow through on instructions provided by the investigating agency before applying for the Trigger. Allow them to conduct their investigations fully first; being too premature may cause delays or result in a lack of suitable evidence being available at the review.

Learn more about dealing with antisocial behaviour.

Positivity is the First Step to Empowerment

Positive Thinking = Empowerment

Enough is enough; you’ve decided to tackle your problem neighbour who, has so far, been completely unresponsive to any polite request you’ve made. You are ready to put your head above the parapet and have decided to call in the authorities.

Here follows a few tips explaining why remaining positive and retaining a focus on your end goal will make the path a smoother one.


Take responsibility for your problem and control from the onset. There are no magic noise wands or sound fairies. Noise enforcers rely on you to provide the bulk of the evidence and will expect you to check in at key stages. Ask questions and inform yourself about the process from the onset.


Consider changing your routine during noise incidents. Instead of getting frustrated and becoming angry with the situation (or process) allow what is happening to happen and shift your energy to something else (this may need to be pre-planned). A rising temper and adrenaline will do nothing to help resolve the situation and will just affect the duration and intensity of your sleep; leaving you tired and unproductive.

You could also try changing your sleep pattern to fit in with the noise, for example, go to bed earlier. Anything that enables you to maintain a longer duration of quality sleep should be considered.

Now you may ask: Why should I have to change my mindset or lifestyle to fit in around this inconsiderate neighbour? The short answer is to say that you are right. You shouldn’t have to change anything you do; none of this is your fault and the noise maker is the one in the wrong. One consequence to this response though, is that all the power and control now reverts to the noise maker.


Most people see keeping noise logs or diaries as an unnecessary pain. The fact of the matter is that, those people who fail to follow procedures, ultimately, fail to get their issue resolved satisfactorily.

I spoke to someone the other day who said that she rewards herself every time she completed a diary entry. Of course, it would be patronising of us to suggest you do the same but I mention it as an example of how a positive attitude can lead to productivity.

Make recording evidence your routine and do it well; every incident is a step nearer to your goal.


Pause and regroup; particularly after noise incidents. Access to, and the strength of, your social ties are linked to well-being. Whether it be via the phone or facebook, talk to your friends and family and let them know how you are doing.

Keep in touch with your investigating officer at regular intervals – by phone (or, even better, in person) as well as by email. Demonstrating a positive and professional attitude will also help them progress your case. Remember, he may receive 500 noise complaints a year; familiarity can therefore act as a useful reminder.


Don’t give up on positive thinking. Persistence is the key to success and negativity can be counter-productive. Read more about the science of positive thinking.

Rebirth of the Noise App

The “noise app” mobile application for reporting and recording noise complaints was relaunched and became a huge success. We confirmed long ago that the new and updated version will not disappoint and, it seems, that over two hundred service providers (including local authorities and housing associations) agree.


For users the app is free to download and use. Once registered they are able to make recordings of noise instantly and are prompted to enter some simple information by tapping a few icons. After submission the information and sound file are forwarded to your service provider (local authority or housing association) automatically. They will review the recording and can message you through the application. As a result, that whole tedious stage of log sheets and liaison becomes so much easier for sufferers.

If your service provider has not signed up to receive notifications do not fear. You can still use the app and they can be notified that there is data waiting for them.

Managing noise complaints with the noise app

The app has been an invaluable tool for noise investigators over the last several months when noise investigation services have been disrupted. Figures have shown a sharp uptake in usage.


Officers benefit from a few more bells and whistles at the ‘back-end’. Access data via the secure server; be notified of any new entries; and even correspond with the complainant. When we played back the sound recordings the quality was also excellent – and you can listen right through your browser without any fancy acoustic software. You can also dispense with any installation of tricky recording equipment as the initial stages of the process are in the hands of the complainant.

The online service is designed to empower complainants but it also allows investigators to triage cases, prioritise incidents and direct resources to those most in need. There are obvious efficiencies as well as an improved investigation process (a local authority who have been using the beta version of the app stated that their complainants much prefer using the app to traditional paper diary sheets). Unsurprisingly, dozens of local authorities and housing associations have already signed up.


For users and service providers the Noise App makes total sense; a win-win situation for once. We rate it highly and think that the noise app is rapidly becoming an essential tool for both sufferers of noise and noise enforcers. For more information visit