Coronavirus: Pollution Control (Noise & Air Pollution)

Published: 14 May 2020

As you may be aware the current Government advice in Wales is to adopt social distancing where possible and to avoid unnecessary travel in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In line with this Environmental Health staff are currently working from home and the advice remains in Wales that face-to-face contact with members of the public should be minimised as well as unnecessary journeys.

During this period of uncertainty, the Environmental Protection Team will endeavour to continue to respond to complaints in relation to noise and other Statutory Nuisances but it is likely that our normal responses and actions will not be possible.

Under the circumstances, we are taking Government advice and having concluded to follow this we will only be able to offer limited actions in trying to resolve your complaints. These will include some form of remote communication with the alleged offender such as a letter, e-mail or telephone call.

Home visits will only be carried out where absolutely necessary, where the issue cannot be resolved remotely and when public safety is possibly at risk, for example gas safety issues in privately rented properties. Depending on the nature of the complaint we may also seek the involvement of an outside agency such as the police, particularly if there are other concerns such as anti-social behaviour.

We would therefore ask that you provide us with as much information about your complaint as possible so we can identify the alleged offender. Anonymous complaints or those where the offending site has not been identified are unlikely to be actioned.

At this time with people’s movements restricted there has been a major reduction in the volume of traffic on our roads, which has resulted in the background noise levels dropping. You may find you are noticing new sounds in your neighbourhood and some sounds such as your neighbour’s activities may be more prominent than they were previously.

It is a difficult time for everyone but especially those in our communities that are the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with specific health conditions. If you receive a letter from us regarding a complaint about alleged noise, smoke or pollution nuisance arising from your premises, please take a moment to consider your activities. You may want to think about your neighbours, who may already be anxious due to the current lockdown and think what impact your activities might be having on them.

You need to be aware that Blaenau Gwent Council can take enforcement action for a statutory nuisance caused under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. We are not trying to restrict your activities but are asking you to consider the impact of your activities might have on your neighbours at this difficult time.

Below we have put a list of useful suggestions you may want to consider.

• Let your neighbours know if you intend to undertake noisy DIY and how long the work may take. They would really appreciate knowing that you are considering their feelings at this difficult time and may not feel so lonely. They are much more likely to be tolerant of any noise you are making if you tell them in advance. Make sure you do not undertake noisy works early in the morning or late at night or for a prolonged period.
• We are not expecting you to be completely silent but please consider the volume of any music or TV and the possible impact it may have on neighbours.
• If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, please consider the noise you are creating whilst in your garden.
• If there are several people in your household, noise levels may raise without you realising. Please consider how others may perceive this.
• If you live in a flat then you need to be particularly mindful of the impact of your activities on others especially if you know sound insulation is poor in the building.
• Please do not burn your waste. The coronavirus is an acute respiratory syndrome that means it affects the ability to breathe. It is likely that there are people in your community that are vulnerable and therefore are either elderly or have a pre-existing medical condition including breathing difficulties. Burning waste is likely to make these people suffer even more and it could be causing a statutory nuisance as well as affecting the health of others. If you arrange for the waste to be collected, please ensure to use a Licensed Waste carrier.
• If neighbours disturb you and you think they are inviting people from other households, please let the Local Authority or Gwent Police know.