Dennis and Dennis v Ministry of Defence: QBD 16 Apr 2003

The applicants owned a substantial property near an airbase. They complained that changes in the patterns of flying by the respondents were a nuisance and sought damages. Walcot Hall was subjected to very high noise levels from military aircraft. The particular noise is loud and characterised by a very rapid onset with a corresponding startle effect. The question arose whether and in what circumstances a sufficient public interest can amount to a defence to a claim in nuisance.
Held: The noise was a continuing nuisance, and no question of limitation arose. The Harriers were not an oirdinary use of land, within the legal meaning of that phrase. Major developments in any society will interfere with the private enjoyment of nearby land. There was no statute here, only the fact that the noise had escalated. The public interest clearly demands that RAF Wittering should continue to train pilots, and a declaration should not be granted, and the losses were capable of financial satisfaction. There was an interference both with Article 1 and Article 8 rights, but damages would provide just satisfaction.
The Honourable Mr Justice Buckley
[2003] EWHC 793 (QB), Times 06-May-2003, [2003] 2 EGLR 121, [2003] 2 EGLR 121, [2003] NLJR 634, [2006] RVR 45, [2003] 19 EGCS 118
European Convention on Human Rights 1 8
England and Wales
CitedDunton v Dover District Council 1977
References to decibels in actions for noise nusance, are not helpful unless compared with everyday sounds to which others can all relate. . .
CitedShelfer v City of London Electric Lighting Company, Meux’s Brewery Co v Same CA 1895
The plaintiff sought damages and an injunction for nuisance by noise and vibration which was causing structural injury to a public house.
Held: The court set out the rules for when a court should not grant an injunction for an infringement of . .
CitedSturges v Bridgman CA 1879
The character of the neighbourhood in which the plaintiff lives should, for the law of nuisance, include established features: ‘whether anything is a nuisance or not is a question to be determined, not merely by an abstract consideration of the . .
CitedRushmer v Polsue and Alfieri Limited CA 1906
The court considered the question of whether excess noise could constitute a nuisance.
Held: The court rejected the argument that a resident of a district specially devoted to a particular trade cannot complained of nuisance by noise caused by . .
CitedPolsue and Alfieri v Rushmer HL 1907
The House approved a decision that a person purchasing property in an industrial district may be unable to claim for noise nuisance. Lord Loreburn LC said that (i) whether an activity gives rise to a nuisance may depend on the character of the . .
CitedSouthwark London Borough Council v Mills/Tanner; Baxter v Camden London Borough Council HL 21-Oct-1999
Tenants of council flats with ineffective sound insulation argued that the landlord council was in breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment in their tenancy agreements.
Held: A landlord’s duty to allow quiet enjoyment does not extend to a . .
CitedCambridge Water Company v Eastern Counties Leather Plc HL 9-Dec-1993
The plaintiffs sought damages and an injunction after the defendant company allowed chlorinated chemicals into the plaintiff’s borehole which made unfit the water the plaintiff itself supplied.
Held: The appeal was allowed. Liability under . .
CitedThames Water Utilities Limited v Marcic CA 7-Feb-2002
The claimant owned land over which sewage and other water had spilled from the appellant’s sewage works. His claim having been dismissed under Rylands v Fletcher, and there being no statutory means of obtaining compensation, the judge was asked to . .
CitedAllen v Gulf Oil Refining Ltd HL 29-Jan-1980
An express statutory authority to construct an oil refinery carried with it the authority to refine. It was impossible to construct and operate the refinery upon the site without creating a nuisance. Lord Wilberforce said: ‘It is now well settled . .
CitedPowell and Rayner v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Feb-1990
The applicants complained of the noise generated by Heathrow Airport saying that it affected their human rights to enjoy their private life and possessions.
Held: Whether the case was analysed in terms of a positive duty on the state to take . .
CitedHatton and Others v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Oct-2001
The appellants claimed that the licence of over-flying from Heathrow at night, by making sleep difficult, infringed their rights to a family life. The times restricting over-flying had been restricted. The applicants’ complaints fell within a . .
CitedFarley v Skinner HL 11-Oct-2001
The claimant sought damages from the defendant surveyor. He had asked the defendant whether the house he was to buy was subject to aircraft noise. After re-assurance, he bought the house. The surveyor was wrong and negligent. A survey would not . .
CitedHunter and Others v Canary Wharf Ltd HL 25-Apr-1997
The claimant, in a representative action complained that the works involved in the erection of the Canary Wharf tower constituted a nuisance in that the works created substantial clouds of dust and the building blocked her TV signals, so as to limit . .
CitedKennaway v Thompson CA 30-Apr-1980
The plaintiff’s property adjoined the defendant’s boating lake over which the defendant had, over several years, come to run more and more motor boat sports events. The trial judge had found that the noise created by the racing was an actionable . .

Cited by:
CitedWatson and others v Croft Promo-Sport Ltd CA 26-Jan-2009
The claimants were neighbours of the Croft motor racing circuit. They alleged nuisance in the levels of noise emanating from the site. The defendants denied nuisance saying that the interference was deemed reasonable since they operated within the . .
CitedDobson and others v Thames Water Utilities Ltd and Another CA 29-Jan-2009
The claimants complained of odours and mosquitoes affecting their properties from the activities of the defendants in the conduct of their adjoining Sewage Treatment plant. The issue was as to the rights of non title holders to damages in nuisance . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 08 April 2021; Ref: scu.181380