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The Impact of Music Festival Noise Complaints on Future Licensing.  

Andy Robertson

Every country operates different rules and regulations for managing noise levels from music festivals. Any event licensing permission granted by local authorities will usually include provisions for noise levels and hours of operation. If any of these are breached it will likely lead to difficulties in obtaining the necessary event licence the following year.

Within the UK most outdoor music events are allowed to operate between the hours of 7.00am and 11.00pm as these are understood to be the official night time hours. Although this is a standard allowable operating time some authorities may allow music performances until midnight while others may limit times to 10.30pm for example. Most music festivals in the UK operate live music for about 12 hours, usually between midday and midnight.

What Determines Operating Hours. 
The biggest concern for authorities when considering an event licence application is the proximity of the event to local residents. A remote festival site in a farmer's field is likely to have a minimal impact of noise on local residents and has a greater probability of obtaining an extension beyond 11.00pm. A festival taking place in a city park or stadium will be close to high density areas or population and some authorities can enforce strict opening hours. Local authorities will also consider any complaints from local residents about noise and operating hours at previous events and this can be a determining factor.

Public Consultation.  
It is essential for music festival organisers to include as much public consultation as possible which can include meetings and the provision of a helpline for example. Organisers must come across as knowledgeable about expected noise levels along with details of their monitoring and testing procedures. They should be aware of specific concerns or complaints raised from previous events and always listen sympathetically.

Addressing Complaints.
Despite an organisers best efforts to keep noise levels at an acceptable level and within agreed operating hours there can be breaches and complaints are almost always inevitable. In the worst cases of disagreements the police may be involved and they will also be providing input into any new licensing assessment. Every complaint needs to be considered whether they were received directly by the organisers or by local authorities. A succinct and detailed plan should be submitted with any new event licence application that demonstrates how organisers have addressed any complaints about noise from previous festivals.

If the event received too many complaints about noise levels the licensing authority may impose strict opening hours on any approved application. If this looks like having an impact on the number of tickets sold and revenue generated organisers may consider moving to an alternative venue site where obtaining an event licence for extended hours is easier.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

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Andy Robertson
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