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Typical Noise Pollution

Faulty Alarms
Noise nuisance caused by alarms on a domestic property should first be notified to the occupiers of the property involved and then, if necessary, be treated as a neighbourhood noise nuisance problem. A useful guide to dealing with neighbour dispute including nuisance noise issues has been prepared by the Free Legal Aid Centre.

Noise nuisance arising from intruder alarms on a commercial premises should be notified to the local authority.

Noise from Commercial premises
Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 provides local authorities with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise. These powers are generally exercised in preventing and limiting noise from commercial and industrial premises within their functional areas. A Notice can be served by a local authority on any person in charge of any premises, processes or works, other than an activity controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency

In the case of an activity for which an Industrial Emissions or Integrated Pollution Control License is required, the Environmental Protection Agency set noise limits for individual facilities. Environmental complaints, including those for noise nuisance for a licensed facility should be directed to the EPA.

With regard to noise from pubs and nightclubs, complaints can be addressed to the facility concerned and/or local authority concerned, or an individual may take a case under Section 108 of the EPA Act or the complaint may be pursued through the licensing laws (see Department of Justice & Equality).

Construction Noise
There is no specified statutory period during which certain works e.g. construction, road works, DIY etc. are prohibited. However, a Planning Authority such as a Local Authority may attach conditions to individual planning permissions for any development on a case by case basis. These tailored conditions may include restrictions on the times when construction work can be undertaken.

If you are encountering noise from a construction site you should, in the first instance, contact your Planning Authority to ascertain whether any such conditions apply. A local authority can still address the issue under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 which provides them with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise. You can also address the issue by taking a case yourself under section 108 of the EPA Act.

Noise in the Workplace
Queries regarding noise in the workplace should be directed to the Health and Safety Authority.

Aircraft Noise
Complaints about aircraft noise are specifically exempted from the EPA Act and should be directed to the airport authority in question or to the Department of Transport. For Dublin Airport noise complaints can be made to Dublin Airport Authority.

Road Noise
Complaints about local traffic noise should be addressed to the relevant local authority in the first instance or to Transport Infrastructure Ireland as appropriate. For national road schemes, potential noise emissions are addressed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process undertaken by, or on behalf of, the Transport Infrastructure Ireland . Please also refer to the section on the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006.

Environmental Noise Directive
Noise exposure from transport sources and industry can lead to annoyance, stress reactions, sleep disturbance, and increases in the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

The Environmental Noise Directive provides for the implementation of a common approach within the EU intended to avoid, prevent or reduce on a prioritised basis the harmful effects, including annoyance, due to exposure to environmental noise. In Ireland, Environmental Noise Regulation, transposes the Environmental Noise Directive (END) into Irish law. The Directive sets out a two-stage process for the management of environmental noise to be repeated on a 5 year cycle; 

  • Firstly, noise must be assessed through the preparation of strategic noise maps for areas and infrastructure falling within defined criteria, e.g. large agglomerations, major roads, railways and airports.
  • Secondly, based on the results of the mapping process, the Regulations require the preparation of noise action plans for each area concerned. The fundamental objective of noise action plans is the avoidance, prevention and reduction of environmental noise.

Noise Mapping
The Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 give effect in Ireland to the EU Environmental Noise Directive (END) 2002/49/EC. Environmental noise is defined in the Regulations as unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities, including noise emitted by means of transport, road traffic, rail traffic, air traffic, and from sites of industrial activity. The Regulations are not intended to address domestic or neighbourhood noise.

The Regulations set out certain requirements for the assessment and management of environmental noise, including the preparation of strategic noise maps and action plans. However the Regulations do not set binding limit values, nor prescribe the measures to be included in the action plans, leaving those details at the discretion of the relevant authorities.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the national authority with overall responsibility for implementation of the Regulations and the national coordinator for the noise mapping process. Implementation at local level is a matter for the local authorities concerned as well as bodies such as Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Dublin Airport Authority and Iarnród Éireann.

Noise Action Plans
Following the preparation of noise maps, the relevant Action Planning Authorities are required to prepare noise action plans where certain noise thresholds have been exceeded. The Directive neither sets limit values for noise exposure, nor does it prescribe measures for inclusion in the action plans.

The action plans are designed to act as a means of managing environmental noise by controlling future noise by planned measures, such as land-use planning, systems engineering for traffic, traffic planning, abatement by sound-insulation measures, and control of noise sources.

Details of Noise maps for the 1st and 2nd round of noise maps in 2007 and 2012 respectively are available at the EPA website.

The Dublin Agglomeration Noise Action Plan for 2013 to 2018 is available at the Dublin City Council website

Other sources of information

National Protocol for Dealing with Noise Complaints for Local Authorities

European Commission – DG Environment – Noise

European Environment Agency (EEA)