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Loudspeaker Consent scheme

Under the Noise and Statutory Noise Act 1993 the City Council may consent to the operation of a loudspeaker in the street.

Consent cannot be granted to use a loudspeaker in any street for the purposes of advertising any entertainment, trade or business or in connection with an election.

When do I need a consent?
If you wish to operate a loudspeaker in the street between the hours of 9pm and 8am the following morning. However a consent shall not be given to the operation of a loudspeaker in connection with any election or for the purpose of advertising any entertainment, trade or business.

If consent is not obtained prior to operation an offence will be committed under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (unless the exceptions set out below apply when the loudspeaker is in operation): -

The exceptions to the requirement are: -

(a) For police, fire brigade or ambulance purposes, by the environment agency, a water undertaker or a sewerage undertaker in the exercise of any of its functions or by a local authority within its area;

(b) For communicating with persons on a vessel or for the purpose of directing the movement of that or any other vessel;

(c) If the loudspeaker forms part of a public telephone system;

(d) If the loudspeaker -
(i) is in or fixed to a vehicle, and
(ii) is operated solely for the entertainment of or for communicating with the driver or a passenger of the vehicle or, where the loudspeaker is or forms part of the horn or similar warning instrument of the vehicle, solely for giving warning to other traffic, and
(iii)is so operated as not to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity;

(e) Otherwise than on a highway, by persons employed in connection with a transport undertaking used by the public in a case where the loudspeaker is operated solely for making announcements to passengers or to other persons employed;

(f) By a travelling showman on land which is being used for the purposes of a pleasure fair;

(g) In case of emergency

(h) Section 62 (3) Control of Pollution Act 1974 (ice cream vans)

What if I use a loudspeaker in the street without consent?
If a loudspeaker is operated in the street between 9pm and 8am the following morning without consent OR at any other time for the purposes of advertising any entertainment, trade or business then an offence will have been committed.

Those found guilty of using a loudspeaker illegally in the street are liable to a maximum fine of £5,000 for the first or subsequent offence. The Council is not required to serve an abatement notice and offenders are automatically subject to prosecution.

What is a street?
For the purpose of the legislation "street" means a highway and any other road, footway, square or court, which is for the time being open to the public. If you choose to restrict access to a public highway and any other road, footway, square or court, it continues to be open to the public.

How and when should I apply for a consent?
You should apply for consent in writing (see our Loudspeaker Consent Scheme webpage to download an application for consent). The law requires the Council to determine the applications within 21 days. Please give as much advance notice as possible and note that if the application is made less than 21 days before the event the Council cannot guarantee that the consent will be granted in time.

How much will it cost?
There is no application fee at present, but this will be subject to an annual review.

How are consent applications determined?
Compliance with the Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at concerts (this can be downloaded from the Loudspeaker Consent scheme web page) will be used in determining applications for consent. If there are no objections to the application the consent will be granted and a consent document sent to you. The consent may be granted subject to conditions.

Any application giving rise to dispute or difficulty will be referred to Birmingham City Council’s Public Protection Committee for determination.

What happens if I withdraw the application or if it is refused?
If you withdraw the application the matter will go no further. If the application is refused there is no right of appeal to a magistrates’ court by any person aggrieved by the refusal of consent or by any condition subject to which it is granted.

Where can I get further advice or help?
Telephone on 0121 303 9938 or email pollution.team@birmingham.gov.uk