What is Noise Nuisance?
Most issues experienced in relation to noise fall under the common law concept of “nuisance”. At the core of the concept of nuisance, there is a person causing the nuisance and a person being affected by the nuisance. Though no universal statutory noise limits apply in Ireland, the concept of noise nuisance has been defined under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as:
“Where any 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 to a person in any premises in the neighbourhood or to a person lawfully using any public place…”
I am experiencing Noise Nuisance, what I should I do?
The majority of noise nuisances can be resolved amicably without the need for legal recourse. Often the person(s) responsible for the source of the noise are not aware they are causing a nuisance and are amenable to reaching a resolution which is agreeable to all. In general, Galway City Council recommends engaging with the person(s) responsible for the source of the noise in an informal and polite manner to reach an acceptable solution. It is important to be mindful of your own personal safety when engaging with the person(s) responsible for the noise, especially if the person is intoxicated or known to you to be prone to threatening or abusive behaviour. It may be advisable to keep a record of any agreement reached or of any attempt you have made to reach an agreement. The Free Legal Aid Centre has prepared a guide to assist in dealing with neighbour disputes including noise nuisance.
It is not possible to resolve the issue amicably; what other options are available?
Unfortunately in some cases an amicable resolution is not possible. In such cases, the following option is available to individuals experiencing the noise nuisance; Section 108 of the Environmental Protection Act 1992, introduced simplified procedures enabling individuals to make complaints to the District Court in cases of noise nuisance.
Under this provision any member of the public may make an application to the District Court requesting a hearing of their complaint of noise. There is a small charge (€22 as of December 2015) to accompany the making of the application, and a date and time is agreed by the clerk of the court and the plaintiff (person experiencing the nuisance). It is not a requirement that a person be legally represented. There is a requirement on the person making the application to give adequate notice to the other party concerned, of the upcoming court hearing.
By making a complaint to the district court, under Section 108 of the EPA Act 1992, you would be seeking an order on the person or body making, causing or responsible for the noise, to take the measures necessary to reduce the noise to a specified level or to take specified measures for the prevention or limitation of noise nuisance. It may assist your case if you maintain written records of the noise nuisance as it occurs. Audio and/or video recordings may also be used to support your case; all such recordings must be obtained in a legal manner.
Galway City Council also have Template Noise Nuisance Log Sheet available for Download [Click Here].
Galway City Council does not take cases on behalf of individuals against alleged offenders in relation to noise nuisance under Section 108 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992.
What assistance can Galway City Council offer?
Galway City Council does not take cases on behalf of individuals against alleged offenders in relation to noise nuisance under Section 108 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. Galway City Council may be able to offer assistance or further information depending on the circumstances and source of the noise. Please see relevant section below for more details:
- Aircraft Noise
- Antisocial Behaviour
- Busking and Street Performances
- Construction Works
- Galway City Council Property
- Licensed Venues
- Public Transport
- Waste Collection
The Irish Aviation Authority is responsible for dealing with noise from aircrafts. Please refer to www.iaa.ie/ for further details.
European Standard EN51031 requires that alarms fitted since September 2003 sound for at least 90 seconds and no more than 15 minutes. This does not apply retrospectively to alarms fitted prior to September 2003.
It is the responsibility of the respective property owners and occupiers to ensure that alarm systems are regularly maintained and that appropriate procedures are in place in case of the alarms activation. Galway City Council cannot deactivate any third party alarm, nor does Galway City Council maintain records of contact details or deactivation codes for third party alarm systems.
If you believe that the alarm is coming from a Galway City Council Property other than Social Housing, see section on Galway City Council Property. For alarms on Social Houses see Social Housing section.
Antisocial behaviour, including loud music from domestic properties, may be reported to An Garda Síochána.
In cases where the noise is emanating from student accommodation it may be worth contacting the landlord or property management company as many will have rules in place against causing disruption to neighbours.
Busking and Street Performances
Galway City Council has introduced bye-laws regulating busking and street performances in the city centre; see:
Alleged breaches of these bye-laws may be reported to our Community Wardens or An Garda Síochána.
If you wish to report a breach of busking bye-laws, you can also submit a complaint to our Environment and Climate Change team at:
Email environment@GalwayCity.ie or Phone: 091 536 400
Contractors must apply to Galway City Council for a licence to carry out a works on the public road. These licences will have permitted hours of working; typically between 07:00 to 21:00, Monday to Saturday. If works are permitted outside of these hours, the contractor will usually be required to distribute leaflets to residents likely to be affected by the works. If you experience noise nuisance from a contractor working on the road outside their permitted working hours, Galway City Council transport section may be able to help. Contact Galway City Council, Transportation Department on 091 536 400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
An Gardaí Síochána also have powers to remove contractors from a public road where they do not possess a valid licence/ are in breach of their conditions of the licence.
Other Construction Related Activities
Similarly to roadworks, other construction activity on building sites may have working hours or noise limits imposed. Typically the permitted hours of construction work in Galway City is between 07:00 to 21:00, Monday to Friday and 09:00 to 20:00 on Saturdays.
Contact our Planning Enforcement Section by email email@example.com or call 091 536 400 for more details.
If the source of the noise is barking dogs, then the relevant legislation is the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 & 1992. A copy of the Form used for complaints to the Courts about noise from dogs is available to download here.
The process is similar to that of Section 108 of the Environmental Protection Act 1992 described above. There is a requirement that “before any person makes a complaint to the District Court in relation to a nuisance caused by the excessive barking of a dog, he shall serve notice in the prescribed form, within such time as may be specified in the notice, of his intention to make such a complaint on the occupier of the premises in which the dog is kept.”
If you believe that there are issues with particular dog(s) other than barking then our Dog Warden may be able to investigate; please see section on dogs.
Galway City Council Property
If you are experiencing noise nuisance from any Galway City Council property, excluding social housing, you can submit a complaint to our Facilities team at:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone: 091 536 400
In the case of Social Housing, Galway City Council can investigate if there is a breach of the tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement is the legal basis of the relationship between the local authority and its tenants. It generally contains provisions in relation to the type of behaviour that is acceptable, and that which is not. Under Section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, a local authority can begin proceedings to secure an eviction. Proceedings can begin where a tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement.
Galway City Council can also investigate if there is faulty equipment causing excessive noise at one of our properties e.g. An alarm malfunction.
If you are experiencing noise nuisance from one of our social houses, you can submit a complaint to our Housing team at:
Email: email@example.com or Phone: 091 536 400
Antisocial behaviour, including loud music from social houses, may be reported to An Garda Síochána.
The Environmental Protection Agency set noise limits for individual facilities whose activities require an Industrial or Integrated Pollution Control License. Environmental complaints, including noise nuisance complaints, in relation to a licensed facility, should be directed to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Licensed Venues (Pubs, Nightclubs etc.) will have permitted operating hours. Suspected breaches of intoxicating liquor licences may be reported to An Garda Síochána.
It is also possible to make an objection to the renewal of a licence or the granting of a special late night exemption. Any person can make an objection under Section 4 of the Courts (No. 2) Act 1986 to the renewal of an intoxicating liquor licence; this can be made on the grounds of the character of the licensee, or the peaceable and orderly manner in which the premises were conducted in the past year. Intoxicating liquor licence renewals are heard at the annual Licensing Court.
With regard to the application for a special late night exemption, the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2000 provides that a court shall not grant a special exemption order in respect of any premises unless it is satisfied that the special occasion will be conducted in a manner which will not cause undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of those premises. See Department of Justice & Equality Website for more details.
In some circumstances the noise nuisance may be in breach of planning conditions.
Maximum Noise Limits Specified in Planning Conditions
Sometimes the planning conditions associated with a particular development may limit the allowable noise levels, hours of operation or delivery times. Typically these will be related to commercial or industrial developments, especially those associated with noisy activities, for example quarries. You can check our online planning register to see if any such conditions have been imposed. Planning conditions for a particular planning application will be available under “View Scanned Files” – “View Correspondence”.
It is important to note that these conditions will only apply where the proposed development works associated with the planning permission have been undertaken; e.g. If an existing retail unit which has no time restrictions imposed applies for and is granted permission for alterations to the retail unit but on condition of restricted opening hours, then these restricted opening hours only apply where works permitted under the planning permission have been carried out. If the owners opt not to carry out the alterations to existing retail unit for which they received permission then no restrictions on the opening hours would apply.
See Construction Works section.
Other Breaches of Planning
In certain cases, while the noise nuisance may not in itself be a breach of planning, the source of the noise may constitute unauthorised development or a breach of planning conditions. This may include:
- Noise from unauthorised plant or equipment fixed to a structure, for example refrigeration, air-conditioning, or ventilation units.
- Breach of permitted hours of operation; for example some retail units will have hours which they are not permitted to receive deliveries.
Noise emanating from a property that is not in accordance with its permitted use may also be investigated in relation to breaches of Planning Permission, e.g. unit with planning permission to be used as a retail unit being used as a mechanics. Please note however, that under the Planning and Development Act, 2000, “the use of any structure or other land within the curtilage of a house for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the house” is exempt from planning. Thus carrying out maintenance on your own private car at your residence does not constitute a breach of planning.
Contact our Planning Enforcement Section by email planning@GalwayCity.ie or call 091 536 400 for more details.
Noise complaints related to public transport should be referred to the relevant public transport operator.
In order to limit the impact of Domestic Waste Collection on residents, permitted operating hours are included in the permits issued to Domestic Waste Collection Operators.
- If you live in an area of Galway City with a speed limit of 60 kilometres or lower household waste collections may take place between the hours of 6am and 10pm
- If you live in an area of Galway City with a speed limit of 80 kilometres or higher household waste may be collected at any time.
There is no specified times of operation for commercial waste collections.
Permits are issued by the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO). Complaints in relation to the alleged breach of permit conditions should be addressed to the NWCPO.
Noise in the workplace may constitute a health and safety issue. Queries regarding noise in the workplace should be directed to the Health and Safety Authority. The HSA also have detailed information in relation to noise in the workplace on their website.