Noise pollution and noise complaints

What is noise pollution?

Noise pollution can come from different sources, and can be broadly defined as noise which:

  • Is considered a nuisance
  • Is dangerous to human health
  • Could damage property
  • Could damage the environment

There are no universal noise standard laws that apply in Ireland but your local authority may refer to particular noise standards.

Noise pollution is outlined in the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992.

Who do I complain to about noise pollution?

While the law does not mention an exact level or standard of noise that is illegal, if noise is affecting your quality of life, then you have a right to complain. Who you complain to depends on the source of the noise.

Your first step should generally be to contact the person causing the noise to try to fix the issue. If this doesn’t work, you can take the necessary next steps to make your complaint.

There are different bodies who deal with these complaints, but the 2 main places to make your complaints are:

Local authorities

You can report a noise nuisance to the Environment Section of your local authority, who can take actions to prevent or limit noise.

Read more detail about the role of the local authorities in noise complaints.

District Court

If you are still concerned about excessive noise, you can make a formal complaint to the District Court. This should be the last step you take to resolving the issue. This is outlined in regulations made under the Act.

You can get a complaint form in your local district court office and will have to pay a fee to process the complaint.

Other organisations for noise complaints

Depending on the source of the noise, you may complain elsewhere. Other places where you can lodge a complaint include:

You can read the Guide to Noise Regulations on the steps you can take if you are experiencing a nuisance caused by noise.

How to make a noise complaint

If you plan to complain about excessive noise, try to keep a detailed list of:

  • The times when the noise occurred
  • How long the noise lasted
  • The levels of noise involved (if possible)

Step 1: Try to resolve the issue yourself

You should first contact the person or business causing the noise, explain that it is a nuisance and try to solve the issue together.

Step 2: Contact your local authority or the EPA

If this doesn’t work, you can contact your local authority or the EPA who may be able to advise you on how to deal with the noise complaint.

The local authority or the EPA are not likely to get involved in disputes between neighbours.

But if it is coming from an industrial or commercial source, the EPA or the local authority may serve a notice to those causing the noise.

Step 3: Apply to the District Court

If this does not work, you can make a noise complaint to the District Court, following the steps outlined below. There is a small fee attached.

How to apply to the District Court with a noise complaint

  1. Get an appointment for a hearing: Ask the local District Court Clerk about an appointment for a hearing. You will need to refer exactly to the legislation under which you are making the complaint:
    1. Section 108 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992
    2. The Environmental Protection Agency Act (Noise) Regulations 1994
  2. Inform the other party: At least 7 days before the date of your hearing, you must inform the person or business you are complaining about that you have made a complaint to the District Court about them.
  3. Fill in the form: The District Court will give you a form for making the complaint, which you must fill out in full.
  4. Attend the hearing date: You must then attend court at your appointment time to present you complaint.

Outcome of District Court noise complaints

If the person is making noise during trade or business, they may have a defence if they can show that:

  • They took all reasonable care to prevent the noise
  • The noise is in line with a licence issued under the Act

If you win the case, the Court can order those responsible for the noise to take measures to prevent or limit the noise. These orders must be obeyed.

What is environmental noise?

Environmental noise means unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities. This can come from a variety of sources and includes noise from:

  • Transport
  • Road traffic
  • Rail traffic
  • Air traffic
  • Industrial sites

You can experience environmental noise anywhere, for example in or around:

  • Built-up areas
  • Public parks or other quiet areas within built-up areas
  • In quiet areas in open country
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Other noise-sensitive buildings and areas

What is not considered environmental noise?

In Ireland, environmental noise does not apply to noise:

  • From domestic activities
  • Created by neighbours
  • At workplaces
  • Inside transport vehicles
  • Due to military activities in military areas
  • Caused by the person exposed to the noise

This is outlined in the European Communities (Environmental Noise) Regulations 2018.

What are the impacts of environmental noise?

If you are exposed to environmental noise long-term, it can have negative effects on your health. It can:

  • Impact your sleep
  • Contribute to heart disease
  • Impact your mental health and wellbeing
  • Cause annoyance and interfere with your daily activities
  • Cause cognitive impairment (damage to your ability to think)
  • Cause hearing problems including tinnitus

The EPA have more information on the potential impacts of long-term exposure to environmental noise.

Noise from fireworks

If there are fireworks being set off where you live, you can report it to your local Garda station, or you can call the Garda confidential line on 1800 666 111.

If your pet is distressed by fireworks, have firework advice and resources available.

Noise from homes

Domestic noise is noise from a domestic setting, like a home. Depending on the cause of the noise, you will complain in a different way. This is outlined below.

If the noise is coming from a person’s home, the Gardaí can ask them to lower noise but they can’t enter the property with the sole intention of asking them to lower the noise.

If the noise continues, you can complain to the District Court (see above).

There is useful information in the leaflet on neighbour disputes (pdf) published by FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres.

Noise from rented properties

If there is noise coming from a rented home, you should approach the tenant first and ask them to lower the noise. If this doesn’t work, you can complain to the landlord. This may be a:

  • Private landlord
  • Local authority
  • Housing association

People who are renting from private landlords or housing associations have certain obligations. These include not engaging in anti-social behaviour, which includes persistent noise that affects others around them.

You can complain to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) if a private landlord or housing association doesn’t enforce these obligations.

If the tenant is renting from a local authority housing, they must avoid causing any nuisance such as noise to other properties around you. If they do make excessive and persistent noise, they are breaking the tenancy agreement and the local authority can take steps to make sure they follow the terms of the agreement. You can read the legislation on noise from rented properties.

Noise from alarms

All alarm installers must have licences from the Private Security Authority. To get a licence, they have to follow certain standards. This includes a limit on the length of time an external alarm can sound for – the maximum under the European standard is 15 minutes.

The local authority, the EPA or an individual may take action under the EPA Act to deal with breaches of these standards.

You can read about car alarms in the Noise from transport section below.

Noise from dogs

If your neighbour’s dog is barking, you should go to your neighbour directly to try resolve the issue. If this doesn’t work, you can complain to the District Court.

You can do this by completing a Section 108 Form, which you can get from your local authority or District Court. Before you do this, you must let the dog owner know that you are making a complaint.

To deal with noise from a dog, the Court can:

  • Order the dog owner (or occupier of the house where the dog is kept) to exercise control over the dog to reduce the barking
  • Limit the number of dogs that can be kept on a property
  • Order that the dog warden takes the dog to the dog shelter
  • Make the owner pay a fine for the noise and cost of taking and keeping the in the shelter.

You can find out more about owning a dog on our page Dog licences and ownership.

Noise from bird scarers (such as crow bangers)

Bird scarers are used by farmers to keep birds away from their crops. They can work by making a loud noise to scare away any birds or pests in the area.

Some bird scarers, such as crow bangers, can be extremely loud. There are no laws in place to deal with bird scarers specifically.

If you want to complain about the noise from a crow banger, follow the steps in the How to make a noise complaint section above.

Noise from entertainment venues and events

Contact your local authority if you want to complain about noise coming from:

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Nightclubs
  • Concerts
  • Other out-door events

Your local authority may serve a notice to the organisers of the entertainment to prevent or limit noise. Then if the organisers do not stop or limit the noise, the local authority may prosecute them.

If you want to complain about noise from outside a premise or event, for example, anti-social behaviour, you should contact An Garda Síochánna. The Gardaí have the power to arrest a person for breach of the peace in a public place.

Noise from transport

Noise from motor vehicles

All vehicles with an internal combustion engine must be fitted with a silencer or a similar device to reduce the noise. This does not apply to vehicles taking part in a trial, competition or race carried out on a closed road. Read the laws on vehicle noise.

This does not apply to electric vehicles, as they don’t have an internal combustion engine; they have an electric engine.

You can’t drive a vehicle that causes excessive noise in a public place. The National Car Test (NCT) assess how effectively the silencer reduces exhaust-related noise.

Beeping a car horn

You should only beep or use a horn to warn other road users of oncoming danger, or to make them aware of your presence for safety reasons.

You shouldn’t use a horn in a built-up area between 11pm and 7am unless there is a traffic emergency.

Contact the Gardaí if you wish to complain about breaches of these rules.

Car alarms

No standards have been set in Ireland for the operation of car alarm noise. The EU standards for car alarms set minimum and maximum time limits for the sounding of the alarm (25 seconds minimum and 30 seconds maximum).

Noise from aircrafts

If you want to make a complaint about aeroplane noise, you can make it directly to the airport in question. The Aircraft Noise Competent Authority is responsible for managing noise regulation at Dublin airport.

You can read more about making a noise complaint to Dublin Airport.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is responsible for controlling noise from aircraft.

Check the law on noise from aircrafts in Dublin airport.

Commercial or industrial noise

If there is excessive noise coming from commercial or industrial works, you may be able to make a complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or your local authority.

Sites licenced by the EPA

You can search for a licenced premise on the EPA website. If the commercial or industrial work site is licenced with the EPA, they can take steps to make sure the site is following the terms of a notice to control noise. The EPA can then recover the cost of doing this.

The EPA can tell the person or body to take specific action to prevent or limit noise. If those causing the noise don’t comply, they can be prosecuted.

The EPA usually deals with waste disposal activities and activities that require Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licences.

Sites not licenced with the EPA

If the premise is not licenced with the EPA, you can report it to your local authority.

Local authorities have similar powers to the EPA and can also serve notices. This notice requires the person in charge to follow instructions set out in the notice to prevent or limit noise.

The local authority can prosecute you if you fail to comply with the notice.

Or, it may take steps itself to ensure compliance and then recover the costs from the person in charge.

Noise from within your workplace

If you want to make a complaint about noise at work, you should contact your HR department first.

If this doesn’t work, you can contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). The HAS deals with queries regarding noise in the workplace and it has FAQs on this issue.

You can read more in our page on health and safety at work.

Planning permission and noise complaints

When granting planning permission for a building, the local authority can include conditions to prevent or reduce noise. These conditions can relate to the construction or building phase and/or to the use of the building when it is complete.

You can appeal to An Bord Pleanála against these requirements (or the absence of them).

Further information and contacts

Contact your local authority for more information on noise complaints.

Contact your local Garda station.

Environmental Protection Agency

PO Box 3000
Johnstown Castle Estate

Tel: (053) 916 0600
Locall: 0818 33 55 99
Fax: (053) 916 0699

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Parkgate Business Centre
Parkgate Street
Dublin 8

Tel: +353 1 646 3600

Residential Tenancies Board

PO Box 47
Co. Cork

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Tel: 0818 303 037 or 01 702 8100
Fax: 0818 303 039
Page edited: 2 February 2024