Northern Ireland

Noisy neighbour complaints in NI double in lockdown

A man covering his head with a pillow Image copyright Getty Images

Complaints about noisy neighbours more than doubled during lockdown across Northern Ireland.

Figures for 10 of the 11 council areas show that between 1 April and 30 June staff received 438 complaints about parties, loud TV and music.

That is an increase of 119% on the same period in 2019.

The Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) said a number of factors related to the lockdown may have been behind the spike.

"During the lockdown period, with travel restrictions in place, most people were at home when this wouldn't normally be the case," the ANC's Dan Sanders said.

"Background noise levels were lower due to the absence of road traffic which means that sound transmission between dwellings will have been more noticeable."

Normal domestic behaviour may also "have altered during this challenging period," he added.

Image copyright Dan Sanders
Image caption Dan Sanders says effective communication between neighbours can often settle any noise issues

A total of 438 complaints about neighbour noise were received by councils here between April and June - up from 200 from the same period in 2019.

The figures do not include statistics from Belfast City Council.

In late March it suspended its night-time noise complaints service, in which staff visit properties and investigate noise complaints, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The council was therefore unable to supply comparative year-on-year data.

Noise complaints in April, May and June 2019 v 2020:

  • Antrim and Newtownabbey - 22 in 2019, 59 in 2020
  • Ards and North Down - 18, 53
  • Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon - 39, 56
  • Causeway Coast and Glens - 25, 36
  • Derry and Strabane - 24, 58
  • Fermanagh and Omagh - 10, 31
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh - 23, 53
  • Mid and East Antrim - 17, 41
  • Mid Ulster - 14, 37
  • Newry, Mourne and Down - 8, 14

The biggest percentage increase during lockdown was in Fermanagh and Omagh, where complaints rose from 10 in 2019 to 31 this year - an increase of 210%.

The figures further show in Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Mid Ulster, Mid and East Antrim and Derry City and Strabane complaints about music/TV/parties all increased by more than 140%.

The ANC said a dispute can often be settled with effective communication between neighbours.

"Talking to your neighbour and explaining the situation might in some cases help to solve the problem," Mr Sanders said.

'Be considerate'

The mayor of Derry Brian Tierney said the rise in noise complaints was something "we have to tackle head on for the benefit of everyone in our district".

"I implore all to please be considerate and follow the extensive advice available," he added.

More neighbour complaints were made in Antrim and Newtownabbey (59) than in any other council area during lockdown, the figures also show.

It was followed by Derry City and Strabane (58) and Lisburn and Castlereagh and Ards and North Down (both 53).

The fewest complaints were received by Newry, Mourne and Down council (14).

The smallest percentage increase was recorded in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon where noise complaints rose by 43%, while in Causeway Coast and Glens complaints increased by 44%.

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