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Australian Noise Laws

A stylised map of Australia

Across Australia, from the bustling streets of Sydney to the serene hills of Adelaide, residential noise regulations stand as a cornerstone of community harmony and wellbeing. While the federal government doesn't control noise, leaving it up to state and local governments, each state and territory has their own ways to effectively manage noise pollution and disturbances. Understanding these regulations is crucial for maintaining a harmonious community. State-to-state, the regulations are typically consistent, but a few areas, like Queensland, differ by district, so it’s always vital to double-check with your local council. These regulations underscore the importance of proactive measures to mitigate noise disturbances and nurture a sense of community amongst residents. Let’s take a look at how each region’s capital regulates their noise.

What are the noise laws in Sydney?

  • Sydney’s laws are consistent with the regulations across all of NSW.

  • Time Restrictions for Noise Sources:

  • Power tools and equipment (e.g., pool pumps, lawn mowers, leaf blowers): 

  • Weekends & Public Holidays: not before 8 am or after 8 pm

  • Any other day: not before 7 am or after 8 pm

  • Loud musical instruments and sound equipment (e.g., drums, electric guitar amplifiers): 

  • Friday, Saturday & the day immediately before a Public Holiday: not before 8 am or after midnight

  • Any other day: not before 8 am or after 10 pm

  • Air conditioners and water heaters: 

  • Weekends and Public Holidays: not before 8 am or after 10 pm

  • Any other day: not before 7 am or after 10 pm

  • Cars and other motor vehicles (Cars leaving or entering a property exempted): 

  • Weekends & Public Holidays: not before 8 am or after 8 pm

  • Any other day: not before 7 am or after 8 pm

  • Noise Restrictions for Animals:

  • The Companion Animals Act 1998 regulates noise caused by barking dogs and noisy cats. Penalties for offences start at $880 for the first offence and progress to $1650 for any further offences.

  • Local Sydney authorities can issue two kinds of noise orders: 

  • Noise control orders limit allowable noise at specific times and places, such as districts.

  • Noise abatement orders may be issued to individuals to enforce noise restrictions.

What are the noise laws in Brisbane?

  • Queensland noise regulations differ greatly depending on the governing council, so if you’re outside of Brisbane be sure to check the website of your local council for full details.

  • Noise limits apply to regulated devices, including compressors, generators, grass cutters, impacting tools, leaf blowers, oxyacetylene burners, and various power tools.

  • These provisions do not apply to builders or building contractors working on an authorised building site, which have special noise limits for building work.

  • Specific noise limits apply during certain times:

  • Monday to Saturday from 7 pm to 7 am: No clearly audible noise allowed.

  • Sunday or public holiday from 7 pm to 8 am: No clearly audible noise allowed.

  • Activities and equipment operating within prescribed levels and times may also be assessed against general emission criteria and noise emission criteria identified within the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

  • EPA noise limits do not apply if a Council has prescribed a custom limit in a development approval or local law approval for specific equipment or activities.

  • To lodge a complaint about noise, residents can report to Brisbane City Council, providing specific information and evidence such as an environmental nuisance diary, recordings, and a statutory declaration

What are the noise laws in Perth?

  • Perth’s laws are consistent with the rest of Western Australia, but always be sure to double check with your local council before lodging a complaint.

  • The Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 set limits on noise emissions and refer to Australian Standards.

  • Broadly speaking, any noise which can be heard from within a sensitive premises from the hours of 0700 to 2200 cannot be above assigned decibel levels, fluctuating depending on time of day, location, and noise source.

  • Industries falling under prescribed premises are regulated by the environmental agency, while local governments handle domestic, commercial, and general industry noise using the Regulations.

  • Noise regulations cover issues such as noise passing from one premises to another, noise from public places affecting adjacent premises, and acceptable noise levels in relation to land use.

  • However, the regulations do not address noise within one premises, noise from traffic on roads or trains (except model trains), noise from aircraft (except model planes), or noise from safety warning devices.

What are the noise laws in Adelaide?

  • Regulatory Framework:

  • Most domestic noise falls under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 (SA), criminalising local nuisances, which determines the regulations across the state of South Australia.

  • Local councils handle complaints related to local nuisances, with authorised officers determining if the noise constitutes a nuisance. If you need to lodge a complaint, check the processes on your local council website.

  • Examples of Local Nuisances:

  • Fixed Machine Noise on Domestic Premises: Noise from machinery like air conditioners is a nuisance if it travels to neighbouring habitable areas.

  • Domestic Activity: Noise from activities such as lawn mowing or power tools is deemed a nuisance if it occurs between specified hours.

  • Construction Noise: Noise from construction activities is considered a nuisance if it occurs beyond certain hours.

  • Waste Collection and Maintenance: Noise from waste collection, street sweeping, and tree maintenance is restricted during specific times.

  • Illegal hours: 

  • Domestic Premises Noise & Noise from Refrigeration Equipment in Parked Vehicle:

  • 8pm to midnight every day

  • Midnight to 9am on Sundays

  • Midnight to 8am all other days

  • Construction Noise:

  • Any Sunday or public holiday

  • After 7pm an before 7am on all other days

  • Waste Collection Noise & Street or Tree Maintenance Machine Noise in Public Space:

  • Before 9am and after 7pm on Sundays and public holidays

  • After 7pm an before 7am on all other days

  • Penalties and Enforcement:

  • A person who carries on an activity intentionally or recklessly and with the knowledge that local nuisance will result is guilty of an offence. 

  • Maximum penalty: 

  • in the case of a body corporate - $60 000

  • in the case of a natural person - $30 000

  • A person who carries on an activity that results in local nuisance is guilty of an offence. 

  • Maximum penalty: 

  • in the case of a body corporate - $20 000

  • in the case of a natural person- $10 000. 

  • Expiation fee: $500.

  • A person must, on request by an authorised officer, cease an activity, or remove from premises owned or occupied by the person any substance, material or thing that, in the opinion of the authorised officer, is causing local nuisance. 

  • Maximum penalty: $5 000

  • Expiation fee: $210

  • Exclusions from Local Nuisance:

  • Certain activities or noise sources are exempt from being classified as local nuisances, such as noise from licensed premises, schools, and religious institutions.

  • Addressing Local Nuisances:

  • Complaints about local nuisances can be directed to local councils, which may issue abatement notices or fines.

  • Individuals affected by local nuisances can seek recourse through the Environment, Resources, and Development Court, but legal advice is advisable due to potential costs.

What are the noise laws in Melbourne?

  • Residential Noise and the Law:

  • The Environment Protection Act 2017, which regulates the whole state of Victoria, prohibits creating unreasonable noise from a residence, including associated land, buildings, or outbuildings.

  • Residential noise enforcement officers assess noise based on various factors like volume, intensity, character, time, place, duration, and frequency.

  • The Environment Protection Regulations 2021 cover specific noise sources categorised as 'prescribed items' and list prohibited times for noise from these items:

  • A motor vehicle (other than a vehicle moving in or out of premises) personal watercraft, or lawn mower

  • An electric power tool, chain or circular saw, gas or air compressor, pneumatic power tool, hammer, impacting tool or grinding equipment

  • Heating equipment (including central heating, a hot water system or a heat pump, air conditioner or split system used for heating), a vacuum cleaner, swimming pool pump, spa pump, or a water pump

  • An air conditioner, evaporative cooler or split system used for cooling.

  • A musical instrument or any electrical amplified sound reproducing equipment including a stereo, radio, television or public address system

  • Any item of electrical equipment that does not fall within the above groups other than an item for personal care or grooming, or for food heating, food refrigeration or food preparation.

  • Check the regulations for prohibited times.

  • Noise is deemed unreasonable during prohibited times if audible in habitable rooms of neighbouring residences.

What are the noise laws in Darwin?

  • Noise laws in Darwin are regulated by the NT Environment Protection Authority, who regulate the entire territory.

  • The NT government provides a number of factsheets containing information pertinent to specific kinds of noise, all of which are available here:

  • Complaints can be lodged through the same page.

What are the noise laws in Hobart?

  • Residential noise is regulated across the state by the Tasmania EPA:

  • Acceptable noise levels vary among locations and depend on factors such as time of day and the nature of the noise.

  • Noise can be deemed unreasonable by an authorised officer, even within permissible hours, if it disturbs neighbours' wellbeing.

  • Nuisance noise is generally caused by handheld electrical or motor equipment, musical instruments, mobile machinery, or fixed heating/cooling equipment.

  • Permissible hours of use for the above varies depending on category, but typically these noise-producing items are only allowable between the hours of 7am and 6pm, 8pm, or 10pm on weekdays. Weekend hours are more varied depending on category.

In conclusion, residential noise regulations play a vital role in fostering harmonious living environments across Australia. From Darwin to Hobart, each state and territory has established guidelines and restrictions to manage noise pollution effectively, promoting respectful relationships and community wellbeing. If you're a noise compliance enforcement worker looking to modernise your strategy, consider partnering with NoiseNet. Visit our website today to learn more and join us in promoting noise compliance for the betterment of all. Together, as we navigate the complexities of modern urban living, let us strive to uphold these principles of respect, understanding, and cooperation, ensuring that every neighbourhood remains a place of tranquility and harmony for all who call it home.

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