Each year, Council receives a number of complaints about noise. Noise issues can come from both commercial and residential sources and can be distressing for those people subjected to it. Noise can prevent sleep and can spoil the enjoyment of everyday activities. It may also affect work, social and family life and cause stress.
Noise pollution can come from a range of sources. Typical issues include:
- Equipment such as air conditioners, refrigerator units, pool/spa pumps, building/car alarms
- Neighbourhood noise such as musical equipment, power tools, lawn mowers, loud parties
- Noisy animals such as barking dogs or crowing roosters.
Council can become involved in complaints if the noise is considered offensive. 'Offensive noise' is defined as any noise which is offensive to a person on another residential property due to its level, character, tone or due to the time at which it is made.
In order to determine whether noise would meet the 'offensive' definition it is necessary to consider a range of factors including the following:
- Loudness of the noise, especially compared with other noise in the area
- Character of the noise
- Time and duration of the noise
- The noise is typical for the area
- Often the noise occurs
- Number of people affected by the noise.
Where offensive noise has been confirmed and evidence gathered proving this, Council will take the appropriate action to address the issue. Council has a range of enforcement options including Noise Control Notices, Noise Abatement Directions and Prevention Notices. Fines may be issued or legal action taken for non-compliance with these notices.
Vehicles including motorbikes
Vehicles on public roads
Australian Road Rule 291 requires that vehicles do not emit 'unnecessary noise' such as noise from intentional wheel spins and 'doughnuts'. The Police can impose two demerit points and a fine.
The NSW Roads & Maritime Services also has additional noise control legislation it can use for noise checks on heavy vehicles at heavy vehicle inspection stations.
Vehicles on private property
Off-road motorcycles often have mufflers that are not as effective as those of on-road vehicles and can cause annoyance to residents in neighbouring areas where these vehicles are used.
Noise from motor vehicles ridden on private property is regulated under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (Noise Control) Regulation 2017.
Noise disturbances can often be resolved without involving Council, other government agencies or authorities.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) produces Dealing with neighbourhood noise, which outlines steps that you can take to prevent noise being an issue for you.
Talk to your neighbours
Try to solve the problem amicably by talking to whoever is causing the noise that is affecting you. The person may not know that the noise is affecting you or is a problem. Often people are happy to work with you to solve the problem.
Community Justice Centre
If talking to your neighbours does not solve the issue, you can contact the Community Justice Centre. Community Justice Centre's are independent centres that specialise in settling differences between neighbours without entering complicated legal processes. Services are free, confidential and voluntary. For more information contact the Community Justice Centre.
How Council can help
Council has the authority to deal with noise issues under the Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997. Council can investigate noise issues and utilise various tools to control noise and advise what noise levels are acceptable.