Many clients come to us because noise, odour or vibration from a nearby property or business is making their lives a misery. In legal terms it is a ‘nuisance’. If the disturbance to a client’s enjoyment of his home is sufficiently serious, a court may make an order that steps be taken to eliminate it and that the persons responsible must pay damages.
The sources of nuisance in the cases we have been involved in are varied: noise from a scrap yard, a motor auction, railway platform announcements; odour from a manure heap and a recycling yard; dust from an open cast coal mine and a foundry. We have had a recent significant success in the Supreme Court in a claim in nuisance arising from noise from a motor-sport track, "Coventry v Lawrence". The judgment contains a helpful overview of the law of nuisance.
In some cases there is an opportunity to come to a negotiated settlement with the persons responsible for the nuisance and avoid court altogether.
If you are suffering from a nuisance, you may have insurance that will help to cover the costs of bringing a claim - see our 'Insurance' page for further information.
Windfarms and Wind Turbines
In the past decade, nuisance from wind turbines and windfarms has become a serious problem in the countryside. Our firm has represented a number of local residents successfully in obtaining compensation for nuisance generated by wind turbines. The aim of generating renewable energy is of course laudable, but in our experience wind turbines are often situated at the convenience of the land owner and turbine operator, with little concern for the impact on others. Please see the ‘Windfarms and Wind Turbines’ page for further details.
Airport and Aircraft Noise
We have many years' experience in aircraft noise work. It started with the Heathrow Terminal 5 public inquiry, when we were appointed to advise local authorities on the adequacy of the environmental statement submitted by the developers BAA plc.
In 1993 the government proposed a new scheme for night flying at Heathrow and the other London airports. We challenged that in a series of judicial reviews and the European Court of Human Rights. We represented a consortium of interests opposed to government plans in its 2003 airports white paper for runway development at Heathrow, Stansted and Luton airports. Cases about Stansted and Luton were successful.
In 2003 we obtained a landmark ruling (Dennis) for owners of a house affected by military aircraft noise, which is not covered by the exemption for nuisance. The Ministry of Defence had to pay substantial damages.
We have been involved in numerous other cases relating to both large and small airports, where the common denominator is frustration with aircraft noise. For example, in relation to Lands End airport, a proposal for hard runways was shelved once the airports were told to do EIA.
In relation to compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973 for new development at Plymouth City Airport, we intervened in a case which was about to be conceded by the government in favour of the airport, enabling residents to obtain compensation for helicopter operations.