Neighbour issues - Coronavirus

While many of our Environmental Health team are dealing directly with the impacts of Brexit and supporting our communities through the COVID-19 restrictions, we do have a small team of staff carrying out our normal statutory functions. We continue to engage and provide assistance via telephone and email to those who are experiencing neighbour nuisance; however we would ask for your patience as we are extremely busy. Enquiries we receive will be prioritised and it may be a few weeks before we are able to respond to you if the matter is not urgent.

In the first instance, we ask that you speak to your neighbour (whilst keeping in line with Scottish Government advice during the pandemic) or write them a note. They may not be aware that they are causing a problem for you.

You may find some useful advice regarding your issue on our website, and advice on some of the more common issues we get asked about, such as:

Garden bonfires

If you want to have a garden bonfire please consider the following advice.

Whilst Coronavirus restrictions remain in place, particularly during lockdown periods, people are likely to be spending more of their time at home. We ask householders to be considerate and think about what you are burning, when you are burning it and what effect it might have on your neighbours.

Before lighting a bonfire in your garden:

  • You must not burn household rubbish or plastics as these may contain harmful pollutants and carcinogens, which may have an adverse impact on your health including increasing the risk of heart disease, aggravating respiratory conditions such as asthma and causing nausea, sickness and headaches
  • If the weather is nice, please consider that neighbours may be using their garden, particularly those that are shielding, and their garden is the only place they can go for fresh air
  • Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions: you should consider the wind direction if the smoke is likely to go into neighbours’ gardens and if it is a damp day when smoke is likely to linger
  • If you can see neighbouring houses with windows open, do not light your bonfire as this may cause smoke to enter the houses, it would be recommended to speak to your neighbour, keeping 1m physical distancing, and advise them that you are looking to have a bonfire
  • Never leave the bonfire unattended or leave it to smoulder
  • Where you cannot dispose of waste materials using your collection service or local recycling centre, please ensure that you only burn dry materials, including garden waste, as this will reduce the smoke coming from the fire

Currently, there are no smoke control zones within Aberdeenshire, however, you are still required to comply with the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and not cause a nuisance to the occupants of neighbouring properties.

Most items can be recycled at your local recycling points. Please be aware that you may be are required to book a slot at the household waste recycling centres.

Garden bonfires, although not prohibited, are detrimental to local air quality, may impact on your health and that of your neighbours, along with adversely affecting neighbours with smoke and odour.

Further advice on garden bonfires is available on our air quality page.

Dust

Environmental Health often receive complaints from the public regarding dust from construction sites. Under the current restrictions, construction sites are permitted to operate.

During the winter months when the ground is soft and wet, dust is unlikely to cause a problem.

As we approach drier, spring and summer weather, dust is more likely to be disturbed and blown from construction sites around the neighbourhood. If you are experiencing dust from a construction site, please make the site foreman aware. Good construction should provide dampening measures to prevent dust from blowing around.

Construction works

Whilst people are spending more time in their home, they are more likely to be affected by noise from construction and demolition works, particularly if they live on a new housing estate or close by to a significant engineering and/or infrastructure project. Inevitably, those living nearby to these projects will have to accept some level of disturbance.

Due to time lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic many construction projects are behind schedule and they may be working longer hours to catch up with their project timetable.

View further advice on construction works.

DIY

Many householders are taking advantage of spending more time in their homes and gardens by undertaking home improvement projects.

Householders should consider the following when they are undertaking DIY to prevent noise negatively impacting neighbouring properties:

  • Consider the volume of any noisy equipment
  • Consider using alternative tools or advising neighbours (from a safe distance), of the works undertaken and approximate duration - people are a lot less likely to complain if they know how long the works are going on for
  • Where possible, keep noisy work to a minimum and try to keep it to day time hours or hours that you know your neighbours won’t be disturbed - some neighbours find it helpful to reach mutual agreement on when noise can be made

View further advice on construction works.

Living noise

With people spending more time in their homes and gardens we are likely to hear our neighbours' activities more often than usual. This may include noise from people playing music, watching TV, children playing, musical instruments or loud voices.

Please consider the positioning of any audio equipment. For example: position speakers away from neighbouring properties, using headphones where possible, as well as limiting louder activities to the daytime.

People all have different ways of coping with the current Coronavirus situation, which may include making some noise, and so we would ask that everyone is considerate to their neighbours whether you are making noise or hearing someone else making noise.

Noise App

In the event that you are experiencing unreasonable or excessive noise from a neighbour, a construction project, commercial or industrial premises and you do wish to make a complaint to us, you will be asked to download a specialist app called the Noise App and to record evidence of the noise you are experiencing for our officers to consider.

View further advice on how to use the Noise App.

Please create an account and we will be happy to investigate your complaint.