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ASHP noise complaints from my neighbour – what can I do?

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(@ericdo)
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Posted by: @jamespa

I would appreciate if you could post the 15day spreadsheet as well, it has a direct impact on my situation and, if your eho has really got a case, that of many others too.

 

 

It is all madness so far. Installers that have no clue and don't care about outcomes. Government Green polices that don’t filter through to council. Council planners and EH teams that haven't noticed the planet is burning. Council complain departments that are only exist to defend their staff and not consider fairness. Local Polices that the planners ignore. Bored, selfish neighbours that have time to complain direct to councils instead of having grown up conversations with me. You're right - it does all need testing in court. Not by me however. I'm done on this journey.

Posted by: @jamespa

@ericdo  Would you mind if I share your eho position and the background on another forum, without anything which could identify the location or even the Borough Council involved.  Setting aside the fact you did not comply with planning, the position of your eho means that a very large number of people are not 'safe'. 

sure. DM me the link and i'll join the converstation. The key point here is that even if I took that ECS-020 calcs from the installer and placed it where they suggested, I feel the outcome would be identical.

 

Posted by: @jamespa

My hope and suspicion is that she doesn't have a case and is hiding behind planning to avoid having to disappoint a complainant

My gut feel here is that she does have a case. There are no firm standards here - it's very speculative. Note that in her commentary there is still an underlying threat that even if I do fix it to their internal measurements, they have not evaluated impact on the garden and it may be that I am impacting my neighbours enjoyment of their garden.  It is not reasonable at all, but they don't really care. 

My next gut feeling is that if MCS 020 is applied correctly, it is far more difficult for EH to make a case


   
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(@derek-m)
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Posted by: @jamespa

@ericdo  Would you mind if I share your eho position and the background on another forum, without anything which could identify the location or even the Borough Council involved.  Setting aside the fact you did not comply with planning, the position of your eho means that a very large number of people are not 'safe'. 

 

My hope and suspicion is that she doesn't have a case and is hiding behind planning to avoid having to disappoint a complainant, but if she does then the conclusions are very serious indeed to the point that they would need legislation to solve.  It would mean that many people who believe they have done the right thing, and have fully complied with all the legislation, are at risk if they get a cantankerous neighbour and a eho like yours.  The implications are massive.

I suggest that we all go back to gas and oil boilers, so we can make as much noise as we like and no one will complain. 😋 

 


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @derek-m

I suggest that we all go back to gas and oil boilers, so we can make as much noise as we like and no one will complain. 😋 

 

Whilst the levity you obviously intend is extremely welcome, the issue is still serious (as I am sure you appreciate). It is becoming increasingly likely that the EHO at my local authority holds a similar view to that of the op and if this is widespread it has major consequences until either sorted our through legislation or resolved in the courts.  Basically it adds an additional requirement on top of planning consent and one which is ill defined and more onerous certainly than the requirement under pd.  It renders pd rules on noise close to useless other than in noisy areas.  Further, unlike planning consent, there is no certificate of lawfulness against statutory nuisance, thus no certainty.  Thus it loads far too much risk on an individual installing an ashp.  BTW its no defence against nuisance, should your neighbour change, that the previous neighbour didn't complain (unless that was the case for 20 years).

This supreme Court judgement is said to 'bring the law of noise nuisance up to date', I have read it and I'm not sure it helps a lot.  It may be that other case law helps.

The real problem though is that EHOs can issue an abatement notice with which you must comply unless you succeed in appealing to a magistrate (which many wont bother with or cant afford).  So if any significant number of the ehos in the country share the view posted above (and likely also held by mine) they have the power to disrupt ashp roll out big time, just because most people who are contemplating ashps wont countenance an appeal.

Currently most ashps are installed by rich intelligent people who can, if needs be either fight officialdom or afford mitigation.  However they need to become universal so that luxury cannot be relied upon.

 

 

This post was modified 4 months ago by JamesPa

   
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(@derek-m)
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@jamespa 

Oh, you noticed I was being facetious as usual.

I fully agree with you. If I was in a similar situation and had more money than I know what to do with, but I'm married so that is not the case, then I would certain question their interpretation, in court if necessary.

The only thing that I can suggest, other than my previous comments about soundproofing, is to write to your MP asking him to contact the relevant minister, to highlight the possible implications for Boris Johnson's intention to install 600,000 heat pumps per year in the near future.

This post was modified 4 months ago by Derek M

   
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(@jamespa)
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I guess that my MP would say that the definition of nuisance (which is based on the common law of tort) is a matter for the courts. Having said that the statute specifically exempts some activities (but not domestic heating) from nuisance claims, thus overriding common law.

There  may be an argument that the adoption by the government of noise standards for permitted development has 'changed the nature of the locality' (the nature of the locality being an important test in determining whether a particular noise amounts to nuisance).  This argument has certainly been made, with varying success, to argue that a Local Planning Authority has 'changed the nature of the locality' (and thus the threshold for nuisance) as a result of a planning decision.  So whilst planning consent doesn't confer immunity from a charge of statutory nuisance, its just possible that this argument might hold water at least with some judges.  Unless and until a few reach the courts, we wont know (although if there is any case law on alleged statutory nuisance due to gas or oil flues, or ventilation fans in domestic buildings, all of which are similarly necessary, that would give a clue).  The issue however remains that EHOs can issue enforcement notices without reference to the courts, and the burden lies with the responder to comply or appeal.

My Local Authority has confirmed that they will only consider statutory nuisance when a complaint has been made.  However that isn't on its own very helpful, as some people will complain about absolutely anything.  So I have now asked them what objective criteria they use to assess whether enforcement action might be justified.  I'm hoping that they come back with some figures, but fear that they may respond with waffle.  I wonder if OPs LPA have some objective criteria which they would reveal if pressed?

 


   
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(@derek-m)
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@ericdo

Out of interest, what kind of heating boilers do your neighbours have and how noisy are they?


   
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(@ericdo)
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Posted by: @jamespa

The issue however remains that EHOs can issue enforcement notices without reference to the courts, and the burden lies with the responder to comply or appeal.

That is my interpretation too

Posted by: @jamespa

I wonder if OPs LPA have some objective criteria which they would reveal if pressed?

Mostly waffle. You've seen what they put in the comms 🙁


   
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(@ericdo)
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Posted by: @derek-m

@ericdo

Out of interest, what kind of heating boilers do your neighbours have and how noisy are they?

 

They are on some form of Gas boiler. Unfortunately it's on the other side of their house. So I never hear it

 


   
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(@jamespa)
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@ericdo

I have recently become aware of the noise from my neighbours gas flue, opposite our master bedroom.  Its low level, but just audible when its quiet indoors.  Today I measured the sound pressure, about 50dB(A) immediately outside one of the windows to the master bedroom.  Indoors it measures about 33dB(A), although the inside background measures at 30dB(A) so I'm not sure how reliable that latter measurement is.  Measurements were made with a recently purchased albeit fairly cheap sound meter so may not be totally accurate, but I doubt they are far off.  The flue is about 3m from my bedroom window.

So if my neighbour's gas boiler were an ASHP it would not be allowed even under permitted development, much less the crazy requirement imposed by my LPA (and even crazier by yours it seems).

Madness!

This post was modified 4 months ago 2 times by JamesPa

   
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(@allyfish)
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@jamespa it’s madness isn’t it? My neighbour’s oil boiler flue is particularly noisy with a pure tone aspect. It’s the dominant noise source when stood next to my ASHP. The neighbour’s flue is 30ft away.

The Government recently consulted on some changes to renewable heating permitted development, including changing the 42dB(A) SPL limit for PD at the nearest external receptor location. You guessed it, they are not going to change it, yet they aspire to 600,000 installs a year by 2025…

Even if you comply with MCS 020 42dB(A)  for noise level, and all other PD conditions it seems perfectly possible the local authority could take action against you in the event of a noise complaint from a neighbour using completely differing assessment & acceptance criteria to those for ASHP PD. 


   
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(@chickenbig)
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Does PD/planning permission apply to heat pumps fitted inside the house (for instance for integrated water cylinders and heat pumps)? I'm reminded of the Graham Hendra article suggesting that heat pumps be installed inside a shed https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-install-heat-pump-without-any-paperwork-graham-hendra .


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @allyfish

The Government recently consulted on some changes to renewable heating permitted development, including changing the 42dB(A) SPL limit for PD at the nearest external receptor location. You guessed it, they are not going to change it, yet they aspire to 600,000 installs a year by 2025…

I'm never sure why people always quote 42dB(A).  This figure includes an assumed 40dB(A) background.   The heat pump itself must register 37dB(A) or less for the mcs calculation to succeed.  Boxes 7 onwards in the mcs calculation are, so far as I can see, pointless and hypothetical and add to confusion.

I suppose one argument goes like this - the bs standard for desirable interior noise level for sound sleep in  30dB(A). The same bs attributes 15dB to a window left ajar for ventilation.  So 40-15=27, giving 3dB margin for error etc.  

All of this would be a lot easier to deal with if the logic in the rules was transparent.


   
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