Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 03 Mar 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about aircraft noise nuisance. This is because it is unlikely the Ombudsman could find fault with the Council causing a significant enough personal injustice to Mr X.
- Mr X complains about the Council’s decision to take no action to restrict the noise nuisance caused by private aircraft activities.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, and
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered Mr X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information he provided. I have written to Mr X with my draft decision and given him an opportunity to comment.
What I found
- Mr X complains the pleasure activities of aircraft flying from a nearby airfield causes a noise nuisance to residents of the surrounding area.
- Mr X explains that this noise nuisance has been ongoing since he moved into his property over thirty years ago.
- Section 79(6) of the Environment Protection Act exempts aircraft noise from general noise nuisance controls: “6)Subsection (1)(g) above does not apply to noise caused by aircraft other than model aircraft.”
- The Council says the use of the airfield is long established and there are no planning restrictions on its use. The Council is correct in that it cannot retrospectively apply planning conditions or restrictions to a lawful land use.
- Because of the above, it is unlikely that we would find fault with the Council by investigating this complaint.
- The Ombudsman should also only investigate complaints which have a personal injustice of a significant enough level. Mr X has confirmed that his complaint is not a personal complaint but a principal-based complaint.
- Mr X will undoubtedly experience some level of personal injustice due to the noise nuisance of the aircraft, but it is unlikely that this is of a significant enough personal level to justify our involvement.
- Mr decision is that the Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely that an investigation by the Ombudsman would find fault with the Council causing a significant personal injustice to Mr X.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman