Key Irish Legislation for Noise
The Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, identifies noise as a form of environmental pollution and contains provisions for dealing with noise “which is a nuisance, or would endanger human health or damage property or harm the environment.”
The sections of the EPA Act relevant to noise pollution are: Sections 106, 107 and 108.
Section 106 – Regulations for Control of Noise
This section gives the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government the power to make regulations for the purpose of preventing or limiting noise. This may include imposing noise limits, either exceedance values or emission values, controlling sources of noise and the imposition of charges for noise pollution.
Section 107 – Power of Local Authority or Agency to Prevent or Limit Noise
This section gives powers to Local Authorities or the Environmental Protection Agency to control and limit noise from any premises, process or work.
Section 108 – Noise as a Nuisance
This section gives provision for local authorities, the EPA or any individual to complain to the District Court regarding noise nuisance causing unreasonable annoyance. The Court may order the offending person or body to take specific measures to limit or prevent noise pollution. In relation to general neighbourhood noise problems, Local Authorities may encourage complainants to exert their rights under The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 which provides straightforward access to the Courts by an individual or groups concerned about excessive noise.
It is important to note that most noise complaints fall under the common law concept of “nuisance” which under EPA Act 1992 is defined as “...noise which is so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch or occurring at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance ...”. At the core of the concept of nuisance is that there is a person causing the nuisance and a person being impacted by the nuisance.