Have you ever wondered if there were any restrictions on what time of the day or night you can legally cut your grass in the United Kingdom? Gardening is a popular pastime for many people in the UK, with benefits that include relaxation, physical exercise, and the satisfaction of seeing your plants and flowers grow.
With this leisure activity comes the responsibility of being mindful of noise pollution regulations, specifically in relation to using powered tools such as lawnmowers.
There is no law in the UK that specifically defines at what times you can mow your lawn. However, under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, local councils can investigate and issue an abatement notice for noise complaints of loud equipment or machinery being used, with stricter rules from 11 pm to 7 am.
Read on to find out what that actually means to you in terms of cutting your grass and what the penalties can be if you ignore a noise abatement notice. I will discuss the laws and regulations surrounding noise pollution and gardening in the UK and provide some guidelines for maintaining a peaceful and neighbour-friendly garden.
Please note that I’m not a lawyer, and this article should not be used as legal advice. I merely decided to do some research because multiple readers have asked about it before. With that said, I’ll back up my claims with authoritative sources. So, let’s get started!
Noise Pollution And The UK Law
Noise pollution is defined as unwanted or excessive sound that can have detrimental effects on human health and the environment. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 is the main piece of legislation that deals with noise pollution in the UK.
One of the main functions of this Act is to empower local authorities to take measures against those flouting the rules, including issuing orders to reduce noise levels and levying fixed penalty notices or fines if these are ignored.
Under the legislation, noise from gardens is regulated by the Noise Act 1996 and local authorities are responsible for regulating noise pollution in their area. They can issue a noise abatement notice to anyone causing excessive noise at any time of day, including gardeners.
The notice specifies what the problem is, what needs to be done to resolve it, and by when.
During the daytime, the council must decide if the noise is a ‘statutory nuisance‘ which is defined as something that “unreasonably and substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises”.
Between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am, they can issue a warning notice for noise that is above ‘permitted levels’ (see below) and that’s the key legislation that affects lawnmower usage for you and me.
How This Affects Lawn Mowing Times
Lawn mowing is a common source of noise pollution in both rural and urban gardens. While there are no specific regulations related to lawn mowing in the UK, many local councils and authorities take a tough stance on the use of noisy garden equipment such as mowers, chainsaws, and hedge trimmers in the nighttime hours.
It all comes down to the noise levels of the piece of equipment you’re using.
According to the UK government website, the permitted levels during the hours of 11 pm through 7 am are defined as:
- 34 dBA (decibels adjusted) if the underlying level of noise is no more than 24 dBA
- 10 dBA above the underlying level of noise if this is more than 24 dBA
A typical petrol-driven lawnmower is rated at around 95dBA and an electric one around 90dBA, so both are well above these levels.
This effectively means that it’s against the law in the United Kingdom to use a lawnmower between 11 pm and 7 am.
Consequences Of Violating Environmental Protection Regulations
Violating noise pollution regulations can have serious consequences. Authorities may issue penalty notices or take legal action, leading to fines and even prosecution in extreme cases.
If you’re issued a warning notice for mowing your lawn after 11 pm and before 7 am and don’t comply, you may be issued with a fixed penalty of £110 or alternatively, the council may decide to prosecute. This could lead to a £1000 fine for dwellings and an unlimited fine for businesses.
Failure to comply with a more serious noise abatement notice could result in unlimited fines or even prosecution.
Maintaining A Peaceful Garden: What Can You Do?
Neighbours may complain about excessive noise and expediency may lead them to retaliate with their own actions. Such retaliation can lead to a further escalation of noise levels.
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the impact of noise pollution on mental health, sleep patterns, and the environment. Consequently, it is essential to adopt eco-friendly and quieter gardening practices to reduce the disturbance caused by gardening equipment.
To maintain a peaceful garden while still enjoying the benefits of gardening, it is important to be mindful of the noise levels that your activities generate and their effect on your neighbours. Some actions that can help you reduce noise levels include:
- Choose quieter gardening equipment – When shopping for garden machinery, choose brands and models that are designed to be quieter. For example, electric lawnmowers are quieter than petrol-powered ones.
- Use powered garden tools at appropriate times – Be considerate of your neighbours and avoid using machinery during early mornings or late evenings. Also, try to keep the activities that generate noise to a minimum and avoid creating excessive noise unnecessarily.
- Choose eco-friendly gardening methods – Try using gardening techniques that are environmentally friendly, such as manual tools for trimming hedges and lawn edgings. Plant native plants that require minimal maintenance and reduce watering needs.
With all that being said, mowing your lawn very early in the morning is generally not a really good idea for a number of other reasons too. You can read more about this if you follow the link I posted earlier.
In conclusion, noise pollution is a significant issue that affects the health and well-being of everyone. Gardeners in particular need to be mindful of the regulations and laws surrounding the use of noisy gardening equipment, particularly between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am.
Failure to comply with these regulations can have serious consequences, including prosecution and unlimited fines. It’s crucial to adopt considerate gardening practices to minimize the effect of loud noises on those living around you from your gardening activities.
By being conscious of our actions, we can create a more peaceful and sustainable environment for both ourselves and those in our community.