Noise Pollution

Neighbourhood noise can be a nuisance and, if loud enough, affect people’s health. Find out about acceptable noise levels, how to reduce noise and the complaints process.

Air-conditioning noise

Air-conditioners need to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a noise nuisance.

Permitted noise levels

  • 7am to 10pm – no more than five decibels (A) above the background noise level
  • 10pm to 7am – no more than three decibels (A) above the background noise level.

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • limiting the hours of use. Find out what times neighbours are most disturbed by the noise
  • selecting a quieter air-conditioning model
  • choosing the unit location carefully. Avoid placing near neighbouring bedroom windows, offices, multiple walls and corners
  • performing regular maintenance
  • installing a solid fence or barrier
  • installing an acoustic enclosure - check with the manufacturer or installer for advice
  • modifying equipment – check with the manufacturer or installer for advice.

This information is also available as an air-conditioning equipment noise fact sheet (DOCX, 112.64 KB).

Amplifier devices

Amplifier devices, including the following, need to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance:

  • loudhailer
  • megaphone
  • public address system, other than a railway
  • remote telephone bell
  • telephone repeater bell.

Devices used at indoor venues and entertainment events have different noise requirements.

Permitted noise levels

If noise from the amplifier device is audible at an affected premises between the following hours, the responsible person may be issued a fine or notice:

  • 10:00pm and 7:00am Monday to Friday
  • 6:00pm and 8:00am on Saturday, Sunday, or public holidays.

If you are using your device at other times, you need to ensure the noise level is no more than 10 decibels (A) above the background level.

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • limiting hours of use
  • selecting a quieter model or quieter equipment, e.g. using a pager or replacing telephone repeater bells with a visual alarm
  • installing a solid fence or barrier
  • choosing the device location carefully. Avoid placing near neighbouring bedroom windows, offices, multiple walls and corners.

This information is also available as an amplifier device noise fact sheet (DOCX, 113.69 KB).

Barking dogs

Visit the cats and dogs page for information about barking dogs.

Building work noise

This information applies to builders and owner-builders with a permit. Home renovators using tools and machinery have different noise restrictions.

Permitted noise levels

If noise from building work is audible at an affected premises between the following hours, the responsible person may be issued a fine or notice:

  • 6:30pm to 6:30am Monday to Saturday
  • any time on Sundays or public holidays.

Sometimes building work noise can comply with the permitted levels but still be considered a noise nuisance when assessed against the emission criteria. In this case, Council can issue a notice to the responsible person.

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • limiting the hours of use. Find out what times neighbours are most disturbed by the noise
  • selecting quieter equipment
  • working as far as possible from neighbours and noise sensitive places, e.g. bedroom and office windows
  • performing regular maintenance on equipment
  • installing a solid fence or barrier
  • installing an acoustic enclosure around fixed equipment, e.g. compressors - check with the manufacturer or installer for advice
  • modifying equipment – check with the manufacturer or installer for advice
  • let neighbours know about the noisy works and leave a contact number
  • if noisy work is ongoing, consider respite days or scheduling the work so there is a break from the noise
  • limit noisy work to certain times of the day when it is less likely to impact on neighbours.

This information is also available as a building work noise fact sheet (DOCX, 113.71 KB).

Indoor venues

Noise from indoor venues, including the following, needs to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance:

  • indoor cricket or netball
  • ten pin bowling
  • concerts
  • religious worship
  • squash.

Permitted noise levels

If the noise at a premises is over the following levels, a fine or notice may be issued to the responsible person:

  • 7am to 10pm - no more than five decibels (A) above the background noise level
  • 10pm to midnight – no more than three decibels (A) above the background noise level
  • midnight to 7am – no noise heard.

Exemptions

The permitted noise levels do not apply to:

How to reduce noise levels

You can help reduce noise by:

  • planning the location and orientation of stages, audio systems and amplifier devices – face away from neighbours
  • installing a solid fence or barrier
  • selecting quieter equipment and amplifier devices or use alternatives, e.g. using a pager or replacing telephone repeater bells with a visual alarm
  • limit time noisy equipment and devices are used
  • if possible, keep doors and windows closed
  • consider installing a noise limiting device.

Outdoor events

Outdoor entertainment events, including the following, need to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance to neighbours:

  • concerts
  • festivals
  • sporting competitions and races.

Permitted noise levels

If the noise at a premises is over the following levels, a fine or notice may be issued to the responsible person:

  • 7am to 10pm – noise is no more than 70 decibels (A)
  • 10pm to midnight – no more than 10 decibels (A) above the background noise level or 50 decibels (A), whichever is lower
  • midnight to 7am – no noise heard.

Exemptions

The permitted noise levels do not apply to:

How to reduce noise levels

You can help reduce the impact of noise levels by:

  • having a noise management plan
  • planning the location and orientation of stages, audio systems and amplifier devices – face away from neighbours
  • turning noise down, particularly the bass
  • letting your neighbours know about the event and providing an event hotline for complaints
  • monitoring noise levels during the event.

Power boats engine noise

Power boat engine noise needs to comply the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance.

Permitted noise levels

Power boat engine noise on land

If power boat engine noise on land can be heard a premises between the following hours, the responsible person may be issued a fine or notice:

  • 7pm to 7am Monday to Saturday
  • 6:30pm to 8am Sundays and public holidays

Power boat engine noise on waterways

Where a power boat is used for sporting activities on waterways during the following times, a fine or notice may be issued if noise can be heard at a premises continuously for more than two minutes:

  • 7pm to 7am Monday to Saturday
  • 6:30pm to 8am Sundays and public holidays

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • limiting the hours of use
  • carrying out testing and maintenance away noise sensitive places, e.g. bedroom and office windows
  • selecting a quieter model
  • staying away from premises and limiting time in one location when on a waterway.

Pumps

Swimming pool, spa and other water pumps need to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance to neighbours.

Permitted noise levels

If the noise at a premises is over the following levels, a fine or notice may be issued to the responsible person:

  • 7am to 7pm - no more than five decibels (A) above the background noise level
  • 7pm to 10pm – no more than three decibels (A) above the background noise level
  • 10pm to 7am – no noise heard.

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • limiting hours of use – understand how long your pool filter needs to run for
  • selecting a quieter model
  • choosing the pump location carefully. Avoid placing near neighbouring bedroom windows, offices, multiple walls and corners
  • performing regular maintenance
  • installing a solid fence or barrier
  • installing an acoustic enclosure - check with the manufacturer or installer for advice
  • modifying equipment – check with the manufacturer or installer for advice.

This information is also available as a pump noise fact sheet (DOCX, 114.25 KB).

Refrigeration equipment

Noise from refrigeration equipment needs to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance to neighbours.

Permitted noise levels

If the noise at a premises is over the following levels, a fine or notice may be issued to the responsible person:

  • 7am to 10pm - no more than five decibels (A) above the background noise level
  • 10pm to 7am – no more than three decibels (A) above the background noise level

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • selecting a quieter model
  • choosing the refrigeration equipment location carefully. Avoid placing near neighbouring bedroom windows, offices, multiple walls and corners
  • parking truck mounted units at a depot or away from noise sensitive areas
  • performing regular maintenance on refrigeration equipment
  • installing a solid fence or barrier
  • installing an acoustic enclosure - check with the manufacturer or installer for advice
  • modifying equipment – check with the manufacturer or installer for advice.

This information is also available as a refrigeration equipment noise fact sheet (DOCX, 114.07 KB).

Tools and machinery

Tools and machinery, including the following, need to comply with the permitted noise levels and not cause a nuisance:

  • compressors and generators
  • ducted vacuuming systems
  • lawnmowers and edge cutters
  • impacting tools, e.g. hammers and nail guns
  • leaf blowers and mulchers
  • oxyacetylene burners
  • power tools, e.g. chainsaws, drills and sanders.

Builders and owner-builders have different noise requirements.

Permitted noise levels

If noise from tools and machinery is audible at an affected premises between the following hours, the responsible person may be issued a fine or notice:

  • 7pm to 7am - Monday to Saturday
  • 7pm to 8am - Sundays or public holidays.

How to reduce noise levels

You can help to reduce noise by:

  • limiting hours of use
  • selecting a quieter model or quieter equipment, e.g. sweep instead of using a leaf blower
  • working indoors, if possible and away from noise sensitive areas, e.g. bedroom and office windows
  • performing regular maintenance on equipment
  • installing an acoustic enclosure on fixed equipment - check with the manufacturer or installer for advice
  • modifying equipment – check with the manufacturer or installer for advice.

Complaints and noise assessment

If you are affected by noise, talk to the person responsible and try to achieve a solution that will satisfy everyone. Agreeing on the hours of use, alternative locations for the activity or the equipment used are some examples of topics you can discuss. Give them time to put the measures in place.

If you can’t reach a solution, you can lodge a complaint with Council. Alternatively, you can contact the Dispute Resolution Centre.

How to lodge a complaint with Council

To lodge a complaint with Council, you will need to provide:

  • your name, address and phone number – this is kept confidential
  • details of the noise
    • source address
    • date and time it starts
    • the duration each time it happens.

To help you keep track of the details, it is a good idea to fill out a daily log that you can submit with your complaint. You can download the example noise diary (DOC, 46.5 KB).

How Council handles complaints

Council investigates most noise complaints using the Environmental Protection Act 1994. Some places or sites have a development approval with conditions relating to noise. In these cases, Council investigates the complaint using the Planning Act 2016.

When investigating noise complaints, Council may consider:  

  • whether the problem noise has a permitted noise level
  • whether there is development approval with noise conditions
  • how often the noise is a problem and how loud it is
  • the duration and time of the noise and characteristics and qualities
  • the sensitivity of the environment and the impacts
  • the views of any other neighbours and complainants
  • if the person causing the noise has taken or could take any measures to reduce the noise
  • if there is vibration.

If the noise is unlawful, Council may:

  • issue a notice. This will detail the offence and by when the responsible person has to resolve the problem. If the person does not comply with the notice, a fine of 15 penalty units (individual) or 75 penalty units (corporation) may also be issued.
  • issue a fine of 15 penalty units (individual) or 75 penalty units (corporation)
  • prosecute.

Development approval

If there is a development approval for the site, with a condition about noise, Council may issue a show cause notice or an enforcement notice requesting action to be taken.

If the person or company does not comply with an enforcement notice, a fine of 20 penalty units (individual) or 100 penalty units (corporation) may be issued or Council can prosecute under the Planning Act 2016.

Find out the current value of a penalty unit.

Noise monitoring

Council may conduct noise monitoring using a sound level meter at your premises when investigating complaints. Measurements of both, the problem noise and the background noise (noise level without the problem noise), are taken. The sound level meter is the most accurate way to measure noise. Other devices, e.g. smart phones do not have the same functions and are not as accurate, therefore, not used by Council.

Common noise levels

Some common noise levels are:

  • quiet residential area – 40 decibels
  • large office – 50 decibels
  • washing machine – 50-75 decibels
  • lawn mower – 65-90 decibels.

Complaints not investigated by Council

Council shares responsibility for noise complaints with other authorities. Council does not investigate the following: