What is a Statutory Nuisance?

WHAT IS A STATUTORY NUISANCE?

Background

The law of statutory nuisance came about in the Victorian era and was designed to deal with public health issues and sanitary conditions. Today, the legislation is similar to that which was first enacted.
Interpretation of the term statutory nuisance and the enforcement powers relies heavily on the case law that has evolved over the centuries.

Matters deemed to qualify as a statutory nuisance include smoke, fumes, dust, animals, lighting, insects and noise. They must present themselves as being either a nuisance or prejudicial to health in order to qualify as a statutory nuisance.

Variable Factors

When assessing the potential for nuisance the investigating officer will need to base his judgement on a number of factors. These include:

• How loud the noise is and how long it lasts
• How intrusive it is
• How frequent the intrusion is
• Whether it is a one-off or continuing problem
• The time of day
• Whether it is deliberate or not
• The nature of the area you live in (e.g. rural or urban)
• What steps the perpetrator has taken to avoid or reduce the nuisance
• The use of the activity causing the noise to the public

In addition, the vast majority of cases that are presented to the local authority are ongoing issues (rather than one-off issues) where a state of affairs exists.

Reasonableness

Ultimately, a statutory nuisance is a criminal matter and so will exclude matters which present themselves purely as mere irritations or annoyances. To qualify as a nuisance noise the noise must therefore be excessive and unreasonable.

People have varying sensitivities to noise and so it is important that the investigator is able to establish that the personal comfort and quality of life of the victim is being interfered with and that they are not unduly sensitive.

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