Excessive noise can seriously harm human health and can interfere with people’s daily lives at school, at work, at home and play. It can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular, mood and mental health effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour. (Source: World Health Organisation)

Key Term

Sound a term used to describe is the vibrations that travel through the air and can be heard when they reach a person’s ear.

Noise is unwanted sound. All noise is sound, but not all sound is noise.

Statutory Nuisance Noise is noise considered to be unreasonable to the average person. This is the only type of noise the council’s Environmental Health team can take action to resolve.


Excessive noise can have a direct and an indirect negative impact on health and wellbeing.Some of the most commonly reported sources of nuisance noise in the Wakefield district are:

  • Music and party noise
  • Barking dogs and animal noise
  • Other Domestic Noise

The Population

The Wakefield East ward and Castleford Central & Glasshoughton ward have the highest level of noise complaints in the district.

Noise Complaints 2015-16

Ward Number of Noise Complaints (2015/16)
16 – Wakefield East 182
4 – Castleford Central & Glasshoughton 182
17 – Wakefield North 158
14 – South Elmsall & South Kirkby 148
3 – Altofts & Whitwood 148
7 – Hemsworth 140
8 – Horbury & South Ossett 128
12 – Pontefract North 123
19 – Wakefield South 122
11 – Ossett 120
9 – Knottingley 117
2 – Airedale & Ferry Fryston 114
20 – Wakefield West 107
10 – Normanton 97
1 – Ackworth, N Elmsall & Upton 93
6 – Featherstone 92
15 – Stanley & Outwood East 91
5 – Crofton, Ryhill & Walton 88
13 – Pontefract South 85
21 – Wrenthorpe & Outwood West 70
18 – Wakefield Rural 69

Groups that are most vulnerable to the negative effects of noise include:

  • Children as they tend to spend more time in bed than adults and are more likely to be exposed to night noise.
  • Chronically ill and elderly people who are more sensitive to disturbance.
  • Shift workers due to their often atypical or irregular sleep patterns.
  • People on low incomes as they are more likely to live in areas where there is greater potential of noise nuisance and often live in homes that are poorly noise insulated.
  • People who suffer from poor mental health.
  • People who are socially isolated and who do not have support networks around them.
  • People who are unable to leave their home due to factors such as age, infirmity or mobility.

The Challenges

  • Annoyance is probably the most widespread negative effect of noise.
  • Sleep can be affected by noise which in turn can result in adverse health impacts.
  • Exposure to noise has been shown to be associated with increased levels of stress.
  • Long–term exposure to high levels of noise in the occupational setting has been shown to be related to the likelihood of individuals developing hearing loss, cardiovascular disease and metal health problems.
  • Noise can impact on other health determinants such as a persons educational attainment, performance and attendance at work and quality of social/family life.
  • The World Health Organization have identified noise as a contributory factor to increased health inequalities stating the “gap between rich and poor is likely to increase if governments fail to address noise pollution.”
  • The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs  estimate that the annual social cost of urban road noise in England is £7 to 10 billion.

Service Provision


The Council’s Environment Health Team have a duty to deal with statutory noise nuances using powers provided to them in law. Some of the actions the council can take include:

  • Serving a Legal Notice.
  • Seizing equipment used to cause noise nuisance.
  • Disconnecting sounding alarms.
  • Prosecuting people who continue to cause noise nuisance.
  • Serving an Anti-social Behaviour Order if the noise causes harassment, alarm or distress

Further Information

WHO, Environment and Health -Noise website

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – Noise pollution: economic analysis