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Policy actions  4 of 4

Noise and nuisance

A nuisance can be anything that has an adverse impact on a person's ability to enjoy their home or other premises.

Noise is the largest nuisance problem. It is defined as unwanted sound that, when it reaches certain levels and intensities, can be annoying and adversely impact people's mental or physical health.

We set legislation around the control of noise, and issue guidance for its minimisation and prevention.

Local authorities are responsible for controlling and dealing with complaints about noise. In 2005 we commissioned noise management guidance to help them with enforcing the statutory provisions for community noise.

The majority of legislation and guidance regarding noise pollution is issued by the UK government. Find information on how councils deal with noise complaints on gov.uk.

Find out how to report noise or antisocial behaviour on mygov.scot.

This page provides information on:

Neighbourhood noise

Sources of nuisance noise in residential areas include:

Section 71 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 allows ministers to prepare and approve Codes of Practice for minimising noise. We have issued guidance on drafting codes of practice for minimising noise in Scotland.

Environmental noise

In 2006 we transposed the European Union's Environmental Noise Directive (END) for managing noise pollution into Scots law via the Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

Under the terms of the directive and our regulations, we have produced the following action plans for controlling and reducing noise in specific areas:

We are working with key partners including Transport Scotland, local authorities, airport operators, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and others to implement these noise action plans.

Find historic environmental noise information in the archive.

Statutory nuisance

Noise counts as a statutory nuisance (covered by Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990) if it either:

  • unreasaonably and substantially interferes with the user or enjoyment of a home or other premises; or
  • injures health or is likely to injure health

The Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008 updated the provisions of the 1990 Act by introducing new nuisances of light and insects, as well as other changes including how the Act is enforced.

We have issued procedural guidance on the nuisance provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008.

Other nuisances

Other types of nuisance include odour from waste water treatment works (contact Scottish Water to make a complaint) and light pollution.

Light pollution describes artificial light that is excessive or has an adverse effect on the environment. There are currently no measures in place for controlling or complaining about light pollution but you can find more information on the Commission for Dark Skies website.