CIEH noise statistics indicate health of our neighbourhoods

Every year the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health collect data on noise complaints and enforcement from local authorities, which informs policy in public health and environmental protection. Principal Policy Officer Howard Price sets out the purpose of the annual survey.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is calling on local authorities to undertake its annual noise survey and report numbers and type of noise complaints.

Most recently, the annual noise survey has been the source of data for the new Public Health Outcome Indicator on noise. This, part of the Public Health Outcomes Framework published in 2012, provides recognition of noise as one of the wider determinants of health (- see 1.14i – Number of complaints per year per local authority about noise per thousand population). The Outcomes Framework website provides a tool allowing the comparison of one local authority against other authorities in the region, and benchmarking of any local authority against the England average.  For local authorities, participation in the CIEH survey will ensure that a local authority`s performance is not misrepresented.

The CIEH`s survey has now been running for almost 50 years, originally as part of research on wider environmental health activity.  Since 2001 it is a collection of noise complaints. Its detailed format has changed over the years, with the emphasis shifting from simply  monitoring the use of statutory powers to gathering more information about the sources of noise that generate complaint.  The current use of electronic returns allows more analysis of the figures, and its continuing importance lies in the fact that it remains the only annual national noise survey of its kind.

As such, it demonstrates the contribution of the CIEH and of the environmental health profession as a whole to supporting the improvement of public health.  As a unique national dataset, it helps inform local and national policy and highlight this ever-important area of local authorities` work, at a time when noise is increasingly used as a barometer of a range of Government policies.

Uses to which the data are put have included informing Defra`s review of the Approved Code of Practice on noise from mobile food vendors and changes to the entertainment licensing regime  made by DCMS, as well as research into the effectiveness of noise policy interventions.


The template survey forms are available on the CIEH website , and every local authority is expected to participate in providing details of noise enforcement activity for 1 April 2013 – 31 March 2014.  Local authorities will be alerted individually to the publication of the spreadsheet which should be e-mailed back to the CIEH at noisestats@cieh.org by Friday 1 August 2014.  The summary results should be published, as usual, by the end of the year.

Howard Price
Principal Policy Officer, CIEH

1 Comment + Add Comment

  • Statistics and good quality data is the only way we can deal with noise in a preventative way. Whilst reacting to noise complaints is a legal duty for Local Authorities, the use of data, such as CIEH Survey, is the way we need to seek to highlight trends to put in interventions.

    In medicine we know it’s better it’s better to prevent than treat. Data highlights links and trends and determinants. The same is true for noise. If EHOs are now looking at Public Health then noise is no different to obesity.

    Determinants, trends and interventions aimed at behavioural change must be forefront in EHOs minds. And for that we need lots of data.

Leave a comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.