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When noise becomes a problem

What is noise nuisance? Noise is generally accepted as being any sound that a person doesn’t want to hear, with the result that it becomes a nuisance to an individual.

Local noise nuisance can originate from a number of different residential, commercial or industrial sources such as:

  • construction or demolition works
  • air conditioning compressors
  • domestic pool pumps and spas
  • indoor venues/outdoor events
  • refrigeration equipment
  • power tools and other machinery (mowers, power tools, leaf blowers, compressors, impacting tools, mulchers)
  • bird scaring devices
  • rubbish collection, street and vegetation maintenance

Living near commercial or industrial premises can create extra noise in the neighbourhood. Although some noise may be unavoidable, it can often be controlled using improved work practices and other mitigation options.

Can noise nuisance affect the community?

Noise can negatively affect health and wellbeing. As well as hearing loss, excessive or continuous noise may cause anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, distraction, lost productivity, and a general reduction in the quality of life. The actual loudness of a sound is only one component of the effect it has on people. Other frequency, tonal and vibration components need to be considered as does time and place, duration, source of the sound, and whether the listener has any ability to limit the impact of the noise.

How can noise nuisance be reduced or mitigated?

There are many actions a person can take to reduce the risk or prevent noise nuisance altogether.

Select a quieter alternative: when buying equipment or appliances, consider the expected noise level and where possible give some thought to purchasing the quietest option.

Location: where practical, locate noisy appliances as far away as possible from neighbours (especially away from sensitive areas like bedrooms). Avoid placing noisy equipment near noise reflective surfaces like walls or fences (especially corners) and use noise absorbing features (such as plants or baffles) to hide the equipment and reduce noise output.

Work: particularly when using power tools, work as far away as possible from neighbours if it’s likely to be noisy. Remember that avoiding ‘line of sight’ between noisy equipment and other people will reduce the noise they hear.

Be a good neighbour: when taking on a project that has the possibility of creating noise likely to disturb your neighbours take the time to talk to them first before you begin. Find out what concerns they may have and ask them for suggestions about solving any problems. In many cases an agreement can be reached that satisfies everyone’s needs.

What is the law with regard to noise nuisance?

It is an offence under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 (the Act) to cause a noise nuisance and penalties apply. If a matter is ongoing, councils can issue the person causing the nuisance with a Nuisance Abatement Notice, which specifies a certain period within which the offender must rectify the problem. Such notices may also be issued orally in the first instance if the matter is considered severe enough. Council also has the power to expiate an offence by way of an on-the-spot-fine. A council’s enforcement approach, such as issuing of expiations, warnings, requests to cease an activity, will depend on the circumstances and council’s enforcement policy. If a nuisance is emanating from an industrial premises, it may be a site that is licensed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and therefore not within the council’s jurisdiction. These matters can be referred directly to the EPA.

When should a noise nuisance be reported?

In the first instance a person should try and discuss concerns with the people (e.g. neighbours) from where the nuisance is emanating from, as they may not be aware that they are causing a nuisance. Concerns should be raised and discussed, and suggestions provided to resolve problems - simple solutions can often be found that satisfy everyone. Generally, councils will only become involved if an issue within the community (e.g. between neighbours) cannot be resolved or if the nuisance is a broad-scale issue involving multiple parties.

More information

The documents below will provide extra information regarding noise nuisance.

Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 - Noise Nuisance Fact Sheet

An introduction to the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016

If you would like any more information, or to make a complaint, please contact us by phone on (08) 8269 5355, or via email at