Freedom of information response

Noise nuisance created by bird scarers

Publication date: 
Wednesday 11 September 2019
Request: 

We are compiling national data on noise nuisance complaints relating to auditory bird scaring devices (propane gas guns, banger ropes etc).

If available, we'd like the source data as extracts from the Environmental Health Department's database, redacted to protect confidential information. We are particularly interested in the postcodes of the alleged noise nuisance of audible bird scaring devices.

Cover period: 1. January 2015 - 30 June 2019, broken down by year
Auditory Bird Scaring Devices = ABDS
National Farmer's Union = NFU

GENERAL

1) Does the EHD log all noise nuisance complaints (phone,email,letter)?

2) How many noise nuisance complaints (all causes) were received in cover period?

3) How many of these related to ABSD?

4) How many of those related to ABSD, resulted in an abatement notice being issued?

NFU CODE

5) NFU Code of Practice specifies that farmers should register ABSD with the local council. How many guns were registered with the council during the cover period?

6) NFU Code of Practice is a voluntary code, but Councils are allowed to issue bye-laws. Does the Council have a bye-law regarding the use of ABSD?

PROCESS

7) Does the EHD have an internal policy for the process of investigating noise nuisance by ABSD?

If yes, please supply a copy.

INVESTIGATION

8) How many times was the EHD unable to investigate / act on a complaint because the owner/operator of a gun could not be identified?

DECISION MAKING

9) When deciding whether an ABSD constitutes statutory noise nuisance, does the council rely on noise monitoring data, or does it accept the subjective evidence by a EHO?

10) If noise monitoring equipment is used, how many machines does the environmental Health Department have that are suitable for measuring noise emission from ABSD?

11) If noise monitoring equipment is used, which BS standard is applied?

TRAINING

12) How many Environmental Officers does the Environmental Health Department employ?

13) How many days Continuous Professional Development has the team received in relation to statutory noise nuisance?

14) If the data exist, is it possible to break down outcomes of complaints into how many ended in

a) informal discussion with offender only
b) visit to the property & subjective assessment by EHO
c) installation of noise monitoring
d) noise monitoring found that no statutory noise nuisance exists
e) noise monitoring found that statutory noise monitoring does exists
f) resulted in abatement notice
g) abatement notices contested

Response: 

1) Yes

2) 

2015 = 1360 registered complaints

2016 = 1267 registered complaints

2017 = 1251 registered complaints

2018 = 1472 registered complaints

2019 (to 30/06/2019) = 696 registered complaints

3) We have received approximately five noise complaints attributed to bird-scarers over the stated period. Two in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2018.

4) None

5) None

6) No

7) Thurrock Council Environmental Health has a general procedure for investigating noise complaints, but does not have procedures for specific noise sources.

8) Twice, both in 2018

9) To determine whether a noise constitutes a statutory nuisance the investigating Officer will base their decision on existing case law, for example, considering level, duration, frequency etc, of the noise source.

10) Noise monitoring equipment would not be used for this type of noise.  A noise diary would be sent to the complainant to assist in the investigatory process.

11)​ Not applicable to this type of noise.

12) In the Environmental Health Pollution Team there are two full time EHOs and two part time EHOs.

13) CPD points earned over the course of each year is personal information relating to the individual officer, we are therefore not able to provide this information.

14) ​The three complaints where the source of the noise had been identified were resolved when the complainants withdrew their complaints after an initial response from Environmental Health.

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Request reference:
FOI 9320