Noise pollution

Options for resolving noise problems

Excessive noise is a frequent cause of complaints to Council. If you can't solve the problem amicably, there are several options you can take to resolve noise pollution issues in Randwick.

Excessive noise in your neighbourhood

Neighbourhood noise pollution is a frequent cause of complaints to local councils, the police and the Office of Environment and Heritage website

As a community we have reached some understanding about what levels of noise are acceptable and what levels are not. Yet how we respond to particular noises may depend on how we feel. What is acceptable to the ear one day can drive us to distraction the next. Recognising how our moods can influence our response helps us to know when others really are behaving unfairly.

However, if neighbourhood noise is a genuine problem for you, there are a number of options you can take.

 What you can do about noise

Solve the problem amicably

In the first instance, you should try to solve a noise dispute amicably by talking it over with whoever is causing the noise. Often people don't realise they are causing a problem; they may be only too happy to do what they can to help.

If this approach is not successful and where noise is a recurrent problem, you may, depending on the circumstances, consider contacting a Community Justice Centre (CJC). These are government-funded but independent centres that specialise in settling differences between neighbours without getting into complicated legal processes.

Community Justice Centre Directorate
Level 8, Goodsell Building, 8-12 Chifley Square, Sydney 2000
Tel: (02) 9228 7455
Fax: (02) 9228 7456

Community Justice Centre - Sydney Region Office
Level 13, 227 Elizabeth Street, Sydney 2000
Tel: (02) 9262 7844 or 1800 671 964
Fax: (02) 9262 7526

Lodge a complaint with Council

If you have been unable to resolve the noise concerns amicably with the person causing the noise, you may lodge a complaint with Council, which will be investigated by Council's Environmental Health or Compliance Officers.

Any complaints should be provided to Council in writing and include full details of the noise concerns and impacts and the action taken to try to resolve the concerns with the person causing the noise.

It is also recommended that a diary be maintained over a period of time, to record the time, duration, nature and impact of the noise.

Council officers will investigate the concerns and try to resolve or reduce the noise levels and impacts by liaising with the person causing the noise.

If the noise concerns are not reasonably addressed and the Council officer considers the noise to be excessive and/or offensive, a notice or direction may be issued under the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act 1997, requiring measures to be taken to address the excessive or offensive noise to Council's satisfaction.

Failure to comply with a notice or direction issued by Council is an offence, which could result in significant penalties.

Seek a Noise Abatement Order

In some cases, it may be more appropriate and effective for a person affected by excessive or offensive noise to seek their own noise abatement order from the local court, particularly if the noise is having a substantial impact and or if the noise is intermittent in nature or caused by particular actions of another person.

Under section 268 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act, if you are affected by offensive noise, you can seek a noise abatement order. To apply for an order, contact your local court (listed under "Local courts" in the White Pages). You may also consider asking your legal advisor for help. You can contact the registry staff at your local court who will explain the process to you. There are fees for applying for a noise abatement order.

If the court is satisfied that there is offensive noise or that it is likely to recur, it may order the person to stop the noise or prevent a recurrence. Failure to comply with the order could lead to prosecution.

If you decide on this course of action, speak to your legal adviser or make an appointment to see the chamber magistrate at the Local Court in the district where the noisy premises are located.

If the noise is on 'one-off' problem, you could consider contacting the police or your local council.

For instance, if you are excessively disturbed by a particular noise incident (like a noisy party), you may contact the police who can use section 276 of the POEO Act to direct a person making the offensive noise to stop. A Noise Abatement Direction of this kind may be issued at any time of the day or night and can remain in force for up to 28 days from the time it is issued. Any person who fails to comply with such a direction can be fined up to $3300 or issued with a $200 on-the-spot fine (or $400 for a corporation).

Keep a noise diary

Council will often request complainants to keep a noise diary detailing:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Duration
  • Nature or type of noise
  • Location of noise source
  • Other identifying features (eg: registration of a noisy delivery van etc)

The diary should be kept for a length of time (around two to three weeks) and then forwarded to Council. The information is used to determine the frequency, offensiveness and whether the complaint is reasonable.

Breaches of the noise offence provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act can attract fines of up to $30, 000 in the case of an individual and $60,000 in the case of a corporation, with additional fines for continuing offences.

Contact the Police

If the noise is a 'one-off' problem, you could consider contacting the police who can direct a person making an offensive noise to stop.

A Noise Abatement Direction of this kind may be issued at any time of the day or night and can remain in force for up to 28 days from the time it is issued.

Any person who fails to comply with such a direction can be fined up to $3300 or issued with a $200 on-the-spot fine (or $400 for a corporation).

Noise in the community

Noise in the community has a variety of sources. Some of these sources are controlled by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), some by local councils, some by the police, and some by the Roads and Martime Services (RMS).

Noise Source

Who Can Help

Large industrial complexes  

OEH  

Smaller factories, backyard workshops  

Local council  

Kingsford Smith (Sydney) Airport and aircraft in flight  

National Noise Enquiry Line 1300 302 240  

Aircraft on the ground at private and local council operated airports  

Local council  

Road construction:
. freeways, tollways
. main roads
. other roads  

OEH
RMS
Local council  

Road traffic:
. freeways, tollways and main roads
. local roads  

RMS
Local council  

Rail transport  

Transport information line 131500 or OEH  

Naval vessels, container and passenger ships  

Ports Corporations  

Individual motor vehicles (including trail bikes) in a public place:
. roads
. parks, reserves, etc  

Police or OEH
Police or local council  

Motor sports facilities, gun, rifle, pistol clubs  

Local council  

Sporting facilities (other than boating events)  

Local council  

Ships, boats or pleasure craft, jet skis  

RMS  

Building construction  

Local council  

Shop ventilation, air-conditioning, refrigeration equipment, etc.  

Local council  

Amplified music from:
. commercial premises
. residential premises  

Local council or Police
See Domestic Noise table below

Concert facilities  

Local council  

Noise in public places: animal noise, barking dogs, crowing roosters Note: Roosters are not permitted in the Randwick City Council Area)  

Local council or Police  

Burglar or intruder alarms: private homes, shops and small factories  

Local council  

Car alarms  

Local council or Police; Australian Car Alarm Traders Assoc hotline (02) 9713 2081 or OEH

Domestic noise

Time restrictions when noise is audible inside a neighbour's residence.

Noise Source on
residential premises

Time Restrictions

Contact

Power tools and equipment
(powered garden tools eg.
lawn mowers, leaf blowers;
electric or pneumatic tools;
chainsaws or circular saws;
gas or air compressors;
swimming pool or spa pumps)

8pm to 7am on weekdays and Saturdays

8pm to 8am on Sundays and public holidays

Local council or Police

Musical instruments and sound equipment
(eg. radios, TVs, tape recorders,
record or CD players, public address systems, computer games)

(a) before 8am and after midnight on any Friday, Saturday or day immediately before a public holiday, or (b) before 8am and after 10pm on any other day.  

Local council or Police

Air-conditioners

10pm to 7am on weekdays

10pm to 8am on weekends and public holidays

Local council

Motor vehicles(except when entering or
leaving residential premises)

8pm to 7am on weekdays

8pm to 8am on weekends and public holidays

Local council or Police

Refrigeration units fitted to motor vehicles

8pm to 7am on weekdays

8pm to 8am on weekends and public holidays

Local council or Police

Outside these hours, restrictions can be placed on using these articles if they cause offensive levels of noise. Restrictions can be placed by issuing prevention notices, noise control notices or noise abatement directions under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Penalty notices for individuals breaching the legislation are $200 for individuals or $400 for corporations. The maximum penalty that a court can impose a $5,500 for individuals and $11,000 for corporations.

On the spot fines

An authorised officer can issue a direction or notice to direct a person to stop causing excessive or offensive noise.

An on-the-spot fine of $200 can be imposed on anyone who continues to make noise after being directed to stop by an authorised Council officer, Police officer or other authorised officer or, a person who makes noise within 28 days of such a Noise Abatement Direction.

For other offences under the Noise Control Regulations, a $200 on-the-spot fine may be incurred. Generally to be guilty of an offence a person has to have been warned within seven days after making the noise. A repeated episode within 28 days of the warning can also incur an on-the-spot fine.

Contact numbers

For further information you can contact Randwick City Council on 1300 722 542, or the following:

  • Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) - Pollution Line: 131 555
  • Airservices Australia - National Noise Enquiry Line: 1300 302 240
  • Roads and Maritime Services - Phone: 131 782
  • NSW Ports Corporation - Phone: 9296 4962
  • The Harbour Master (Port Botany) - Phone: 9296400
  • NSW Maritime (head office), Rozelle office - Phone: 9563 8511
  • Sydney Region Community Justice Centre - (02) 9262 7844 or 1800 671 964
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