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How does local government deal with noise complaints?

NoiseNet is frequently asked about what role local council plays in noise complaints. Last week, we explored how you can attempt to manage noise complaints with your neighbours. You can read more about that here. This blog will delve into who is responsible for dealing with noise complaints and where you can go with your complaint in order to get the best response.

The first thing to learn is how your council deals with noise. There are 7 councils in South-East Queensland. Below we have generated a list of these council areas. Click on your council to find out how you can contact them about a noise problem.

As much as it would be easier if every council was uniform, each council has a different way to deal with noise complaints. If you live outside of Queensland and can't find your council listed here, make sure you check with the relevant authorities in your area. Most councils will allow you to easily make a complaint online, or even over the phone. For complaints which are more specific, you can try the following authorities:

Loud Music, parties, rowdy behaviour and burglar alarms: Contact the Queensland Police Service (QPS) 13 14 44

Loud native animals and birds: Contact the Department of Environmental and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372

Off-road noisy vehicles and trail bikes: Contact the QPS on 13 14 44 or the Department of Transport and Main Roads on 13 23 80

Loud pubs and clubs: Contact the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation on 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

State government properties or activities that are regulated by the state government: Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372

Barking dog, construction, from a business, air conditioner/pool pump: Contact your Local Council, you should be able to make a complaint online or over the phone.

Aircraft: Contact: Air Services Australia on 1300 302 240

Military Camp: Department of Defence switchboard 1300 333 362

OR Contact us, NoiseNet on 1800 266 479.

If you can't sort the noise issue out with your neighbour, then it's time to take your complaint to the relevant authorities. Once you have filled out a complaint online or rang the specific council there are a few steps that follow:

1. The Brisbane City Council writes to all involved parties about the issue and provides copies of relevant fact sheets and supporting information to assist in documenting a nuisance.

2. The different parties involved are encouraged to discuss the problem and seek a possible solution.

3. If the resident or business operator takes no action to solve the problem, and a second complaint is made, a notice is normally issued to warn them about the potential fine for causing the nuisance.

4. If the resident still takes no action, a fine may be issued.

5. Council officers may issue on-the-spot fines after they investigate complaints. In the case of noise complaints, they may conduct noise monitoring from the complainant's premises.

Your local government should have similar procedures in place, check the appropriate website.

What's the punishment for being too loud?

If it is Brisbane City Council, you can be issued with an on-the-spot fine or a Direction Notice (DN) for nuisance residential noise.

A Direction Notice will detail the offence and the timeframe the offender has to fix the problem. If the Direction Notice has not complied, Brisbane City Council may issue an on-the-spot fine or prosecute the offender in severe cases.

Things are a bit different when it comes to parties. According to the QPS website, excessive noise from amplified music, motors, generators and guests is the number one reason why they are called to a party. They can investigate, and issue a noise abatement direction, directing the person to immediately stop the excessive noise and cease making any excessive noise for 96 hours after the direction is given.

If you break that direction, police can enter your home without a warrant with the view of commencing proceedings for an offence of failing to comply. If the police have to come back within those 96 hours for another noise complaint that's when on-the-spot fines or even a notice to appear in court is issues.

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