Noise pollution from motorcycles and quad bikes

North Yorkshire Council has a duty to investigate noise complaints made by motorcycles and quad bikes. Find out more about how to make a noise complaint.

Motorcycling embraces many types of vehicles - including motorcycles, scramblers, scooters, mini motors, trikes and quads – and disturbance can be caused in many ways. It may disrupt the peace of the countryside, could lead to criminal damage and dangerous driving. These problems can be more prevalent during the warmer weather and lighter nights.

Legitimate use of motorcycles

The only legitimate use of a motorcycle is on a highway, or on private property with no public access and with permission of the landowner. 

Only roadworthy vehicles can be used on a road or in a public place and the rider must have the correct documentation - driving licence, insurance, vehicle licences, MOT – and must wear protective head gear. These are required even if the vehicle is only being pushed on roads, pavements or paths. 

The riding of bikes along footpath trails, green lanes and bridle paths is illegal, unless the rider can prove they have had permission from the landowner. 

If damage is caused to private land and the offence of criminal damage is committed, the rider may be sued in the County Court for the value of the damage.  

Riding on private land is restricted to 14 times per year without the need to obtain planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act, However, noise abatement controls can be applied to both the noise maker and the landowner. 

Nuisance and disturbance

Where noise nuisance and disturbance is caused to residents or landowners, enforcement action can be taken: 

  1. View the Police Reform Act 2002 Section 59 on the Legislation UK website - deals with off-road riding or biking. If the activity is deemed to cause alarm, distress or annoyance, the police have the power to seize motor vehicles. Perpetrators will initially be warned and if they are caught committing a similar offence with 12 months, the vehicle can be seized. To reclaim the vehicle, they will have to pay fees of £150 plus storage costs. If it is not claimed after 3 months, it is disposed of. 
  2. View the Environmental Protection Act 1990 on the Legislation UK website – the local authority has a duty to investigate complaints of noise nuisance and serve a noise abatement notice against people who cause a "statutory nuisance". Should the noise continue, the vehicle can be seized and the offender prosecuted. This Act also allows a member of the public who is aggrieved by the existence of a statutory nuisance to make a complaint directly to the magistrates’ court 

Under both Acts anti-social behaviour orders, interventions or acceptable behaviour contracts will be considered for persistent offenders. 

Parental responsibility

Parents are urged to ensure that children with these vehicles use them responsibly and legally. Unless the child has legal access to land on which to use the vehicle responsibly, it is strongly recommended that they do not have access to motorbikes. 

When riders are under 16, parents are responsible for paying fines and may be liable to prosecution.

How to make a complaint

Complaints can be made to either the council or the police. You will be asked to provide as much information as possible regarding the event including: 

  • vehicle markings/registration details of bikes or accompanying vehicles such as trailers 
  • names, addresses, description of offenders 
  • dates and exact times of the disturbance and frequency of events 
  • exact location of land where the disturbance is occurring including details of land ownership, if known 

All this information will be treated in confidence but will be used in the investigation. 

Report a noise problem

Contact us to report a noise problem.

Further information 

Noise pollution

Light pollution

Odour pollution