Complaints Process – Part I

From contacting farmer to complaining to Environmental Health Department

This page assumes that the noise nuisance is more than a one-off from a malfunctioning gun: the nuisance is prolonged or recurrent, sometimes from multiple guns and rope bangers. It also assumes that you know it is a gasgun, as opposed to rope bangers or shotguns. For advice on how to tell the difference, ask in the discussion forum.

Your first port of call is the farmer causing the nuisance. If you know him and he’s nice, you might be able to come to an amiable arrangement. If not, or you do not know the farmer, your next port of call is the environmental health department at your local council.

Complain to the local Environmental Health Department 

Complaints about gasguns are so frequent, that many now have advice leaflets specifically for bird scarers. Read them, do what it says on them, then launch an official complaint.

Steel yourself: the strategy of Environmental Health Departments is to reduce their workload by delaying every step of the process, in the hope that either you or the problem will go away before they have committed any resources.  

Once you’ve launched a complaint, Environmental Health Departments are under a legal obligation to investigate. Often, they don’t know who the farmer is, either. Instead, they will ring around their “usual suspects”, hoping that one of them will own up to it and reduce the nuisance.

If that doesn’t work, then they will usually send an officer to “observe the nuisance”.

That looks good on paper, but in practice it is largely useless: with gasguns, the problem is that they almost never around when the nuisance is at its worst – early morning and evening. Secondly, few officers understand that repeated “impulse noise” has a different effect on the human psyche than say, a dog barking for hours. The officer will listen for half an hour (i.e. about 6 gunshots) and declare “not nuisance”.

That’s even true – for the handful of gunshots they observe. They do not understand that to you, who has to listen to the noise 16 hrs a day, day in, day out, the effect is that of a dripping tap. It drives you insane.  

So unless you are very lucky and the attending officer says “yes, that’s nuisance”, or at least promises to install noise monitoring equipment, you will be on your own from now on.  

By all means, keep complaining, escalate the complaint and do whatever else you can to make them take your case on your behalf, but don’t expect any results.

To understand why Environmental Health Departments are so reluctant to take on farmers and their gasguns, read the report on the FOI 2019.  Before you make the next decision – put up with the noise, or fight alone – you should read it anyway. It contains information that will help you decide whether it’s worth it fighting or whether to put up with it. 

If you decide to fight, read on to part II