Concerts and Festivals
Most large concerts and festivals will require a premises licence to operate (issued under the Licensing Act 2003). That will stipulate the times at which live music can be played and may also list a number of other conditions relating to the prevention of public nuisance; for example, established events will normally operate to a maximum decibel level and be limited to a set number of events. There may also be planning permission assigned to land, including stadia, that includes conditions as to the operation of concerts and other similar activities. At large festivals organisers and enforcing authorities often monitor sound levels in order to check that conditions are not broken.
If a licence has been issued this will usually be the primary legislative control that is used by local authority environmental health and licensing departments. If any of the terms of the licence or licensing conditions are broken they can be prosecuted or the licence reviewed (depending upon the severity of the offence).
Where the terms of the licence are not broken but the noise (or any other form of public nuisance resulting from its operation) is still deemed to be excessive the licence may be reviewed by any responsible authority or interested party. Interested parties in this context are likely to be those who are directly affected by the event(s) taking place (people living in the vicinity). Usually a reduction in time of operation (e.g. not beyond 11pm) or a reduction in the number of events can help reduce any impact. There are, of course, some sites are just not suitable as live music venues, particularly if they are located in noise sensitive areas.
Existing (fixed) concert venues should have rigorous sound management plans in place and will usually adhere to stricter conditions on noise abatement. Prior to the event operators should seek to minimise disruption through significant aspects such as site and stage design, site orientation and choice of equipment.
Whereas, neighbours will often understand that a certain amount of noise from outdoor events is inevitable. A small number of large events associated with a premises will often be considered acceptable because of the social and cultural benefits they bring. In all cases a balance of interests must be struck.