Noise nuisances
  • Last updated:
  • 21 Jul 2021
Find out about noise nuisances, their regulations and how to make a complaint.

When carrying out building work, the times that you can make audible noise are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. Building work can include:

  • building, repairing, altering, underpinning, moving or demolishing a building
  • providing air conditioning, drainage, heating, lighting, sewerage, ventilation or water supply for a building
  • excavating, filling or retaining work in conjunction with building work
  • installing or removing scaffolding.

What is not building work?

If you are using power tools around your home for general maintenance but are not undertaking building work as defined by the Act. The times you can make audible noise with power tools are set by the regulated device noise standard.

What is the law?

Building work must not create audible noise which can be heard from within an affected building during the following times.

  • 6.30pm to 6.30am Monday to Saturday
  • Any time on Sunday or public holidays.

Exemptions

If for safety purposes you must undertake the work outside of hours you can apply for a permit under Local Law 1 (Administration) 2011. A permit application can be made for:

  • building removal
  • building site delivery or
  • building work

When making an application you will need to demonstrate how you will comply with the local law. Documents that must accompany an application are listed on the application form.

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try and resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with the person causing the noise. If you are unable to resolve the complaint directly you will need to contact council when the nuisance is occurring. To establish an offence has occurred, council will need to attend your property to verify:

  • the noise is clearly audible from within an affected building and
  • the noise is occurring outside of the prescribed times.

Note: the assessment must be conducted from within the affected building. If the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Building work noise requires council to attend out of hours and you will need to call when the noise is occurring. You can arrange an officer to attend by calling council on (07) 5475 7272.


When using power tools, the times that you can make audible noise are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. Regulated devices include:

  • compressors or generators
  • ducted vacuuming systems
  • grass cutters (lawn mowers, edge cutters)
  • impacting tools
  • leaf blowers or mulchers
  • oxyacetylene burners
  • electrical, mechanical or pneumatic power tools (chainsaws, drills, sanders, electrical grinder, nail gun).

What is not a regulated device?

If you are a builder or a tradesperson using power tools as part of building work as defined in the Act, the times you can make audible noise with power tools are set by the building work noise standard.

What is the law?

A regulated device must not create audible noise which can be heard from within an affected building during the following times.

  • 7.00pm to 7.00am Monday to Saturday
  • 7.00pm to 8.00am on Sunday or public holidays

What happens if there is a breach of the law?

Where it is determined there has been a breach of the Act, council has a number of enforcement options available where regulatory powers are devolved. The individual breach is assessed against council's enforcement framework and depending on individual circumstances it could result in one of the following outcomes:

  • issuing a warning
  • issuing a direction notice
  • issuing an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine)
  • prosecution.

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try and resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with the person causing the noise. If you are unable to resolve the complaint directly you will need to contact council when the nuisance is occurring. To establish an offence is occurring, council will need to attend your property to verify:

  • the noise is clearly audible from within an affected building and
  • the noise is occurring outside of the prescribed times.

Note: the assessment must be conducted from within the affected building. If the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Regulated device noise complaints requires council officers to attend out of hours and you will need to call when the noise is occurring. You can arrange an officer to attend by call council on (07) 5475 7272.


Noise from air conditioners are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. There are limits which air conditioners must comply with.

What is the law?

An air conditioner must not exceed the noise limits below when measured from within an affected building:

  • 7.00am to 10.00pm no more than 5 decibels (A) above background noise
  • 10.00pm to 7.00am no more than 3 decibels (A) above background noise

How does council determine compliance?

To establish compliance, council undertakes two measurements, one with the air conditioner running and the second with it turned off or from a similar location not affected by the noise. Both measurements must be taken from the affected building. This is usually from within a room inside your home.

The measurement with the air conditioner running is called the source noise and when it's not present it is called the background. The two results can be analysed to determine how much an air conditioner is operating above the background noise level.

What happens if there is a breach of the law?

Where it is determined there has been a breach of the Act, council has a number of enforcement options available where regulatory powers are devolved. The individual breach is assessed against council's enforcement framework and depending on individual circumstances it could result in one of the following outcomes:

  • issuing a warning
  • issuing a direction notice
  • issuing an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine)
  • prosecution.

A direction notice specifies the limits that must be adhered to by a certain date. The actual control measures (e.g. a barrier, replacing, relocating or servicing equipment) are determined by the person causing the nuisance. Where a direction notice has been issued the air conditioner can continue to be used up until the compliance due date. Once this date passes it must operate within the limits.

Exemptions

The Act lists some exemptions, including if you have a limit specified within a development approval. If you have a condition specified in a development approval you will need to comply with it. 

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try and resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with the person causing the noise.

If you are unable to resolve the matter directly you will need to contact council to lodge a complaint. As part of the complaints process you will be asked to complete a nuisance diary and council will write to the person causing the noise asking them to try to resolve the matter.

Council will advice you how long to keep the diary. This is usually 21 days. If at the end of the diary period the noise is still causing a nuisance, council will need to attend your property to verify the noise is above the limits when measured from within an affected building.

Council must conduct the assessment from within the affected building. If the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Contact council to lodge a complaint and request a nuisance diary.

Noise from refrigeration equipment is regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. There are limits which must be complied with.

What is the law?

Refrigeration equipment must not exceed the noise limits below when measured from within an affected building.

  • 7.00am to 10.00pm no more than 5 decibels (A) above background noise
  • 10.00pm to 7.00am no more than 3 decibels (A) above background noise

How does council determine compliance?

To establish compliance, council undertakes two measurements. One with the refrigeration running and the second with it turned off or from a similar location not affected by the noise. Both measurements must be taken from the affected building. This is usually from within a room inside your home.

The measurement with the refrigeration equipment running is called the source noise and when it's not present it is called the background. The two results can be analysed to determine how much a refrigeration equipment is operating above the background noise level.

What happens if there is a breach of the law?

Where it is determined there has been a breach of the Act, council has a number of enforcement options available where regulatory powers are devolved. The individual breach is assessed against council's enforcement framework and depending on individual circumstances it could result in one of the following outcomes:

  • issuing a warning
  • issuing a direction notice
  • issuing an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine)
  • prosecution.

A direction notice specifies the limits that must be adhered to by a certain date. The actual control measures (e.g. a barrier, replacing, relocating or servicing equipment) are determined by the person causing the nuisance. Where a direction notice has been issued the refrigeration equipment can continue to be used up until the compliance due date. Once this date passes it must operate within the limits.

Exemptions

The Act lists some exemptions, including if you have a limit specified within a development approval. If you have a condition specified in a development approval you will need to comply with it.

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try and resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with the person causing the noise.

If you are unable to resolve the matter directly you will need to contact council to lodge a complaint. As part of the complaints process you will be asked to complete a nuisance diary and council will write to the person causing the noise asking them to resolve the matter.

Council will advise you how long to keep the diary, this is usually 21 days. If at the end of the diary period the noise is still causing a nuisance, council will need to attend your property to verify the noise is above the limit when measured from within an affected building.

Council must conduct the assessment from within the affected building. If the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Contact council to lodge a complaint and request a nuisance diary.

Noise from pumps is regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and there are limits which must be complied with.

What is the law?

Refrigeration equipment must not exceed the noise limits below when measured from within an affected building:

  • 7.00am to 7.00pm no more than 5 decibels (A) above background noise
  • 7.00pm to 10.00pm no more than 3 decibels (A) above background noise
  • 10.00pm to 7.00am no clearly audible noise.

How does council determine compliance?

To establish compliance, council undertakes two measurements, one with the pump running and the second with it turned off or from a similar location not affected by the noise.  Both measurements must be taken from the affected building. This is usually from within a room inside your home.

The measurement with the pump running is called the source noise and when it's not present it is call the background. The two results can be analysed to determine how much a pump is operating above the background noise level.

What happens if there a breach of the law?

Where it is determined there has been a breach of the Act, council has a number of enforcement options available where regulatory powers are devolved. The individual breach is assessed against council's enforcement framework and depending on individual circumstances it could result in one of following outcomes:

  • issuing a warning
  • issuing a direction notice
  • issuing an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine)
  • prosecution

A direction notice specifies the limits that must be adhered to by a certain date. The actual control measures (e.g. a barrier, replacing, relocating or servicing equipment) are determined by the person causing the nuisance. Where a direction notice has been issued, the pump can continue to be used up until the compliance due date. Once this date passes, it must operate within the limits.

Exemptions

The Act lists some exemptions, including if you have a limit specified within a development approval. If you have a condition specified in a development approval you will need to comply with it.

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try to resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with the person causing the noise.

If you are unable to resolve the matter directly you will need to contact council to lodge a complaint. As part of the complaints process you will be asked to complete a nuisance diary and council will write to the person causing the noise asking them to try to resolve the matter.

Council will advise you how long to keep the diary, this is usually 21 days. If at the end of the diary period the noise is still causing a nuisance, council will need to attend your property to verify the noise is above limits when measured from within an affected building.

Council must conduct the assessment from within the affected building. if the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Contact council to can lodge a complaint and request a nuisance diary.

When operating a power boat engine on land (e.g. flushing), the times that you can make audible noise are regulated under Environmental Protection Act 1994.

What is the law?

A power boat engine on land (flushing) must not create audible noise which can be heard from within an affected building during the following times:

  • 7.00pm to 7.00am Monday to Saturday
  • 6.30pm to 8.00am Sunday or public holidays.

A power boat engine used for sporting activities on waterways must not create audible noise which can be heard from within an affected building during the following times:

  • 7.00pm to 7.00am Monday to Saturday
  • 6.30pm to 8.00am Sunday or public holidays.

What happens if there is a breach of the law?

Where it is determined there has been a breach of the Act, council has a number of enforcement options available where regulatory powers are devolved. The individual breach is assessed against council's enforcement framework and depending on individual circumstances it could result in one of the following outcomes:

  • issuing a warning
  • issuing a direction notice
  • issuing an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine)
  • prosecution.

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try and resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with the person causing the noise. If you are unable to resolve the complaint directly, you will need to contact council when the noise is occurring. To establish an offence has occurred, council will need to attend your property to verify:

  • the noise is clearly audible from within an affected building and
  • the noise is occurring outside of the prescribed times.

Note: the assessment must be conducted from within the affected building. If the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Investigating complaints about noise from power boat engines requires council officers to attend out of hours and you will need to call when the noise is occurring. You can arrange an officer to attend by calling council on (07) 5475 7272.

When using an amplified device, the times that you can make audible noise are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. Amplified devices include:

  • loud-hailers
  • megaphones
  • public address systems
  • remote telephone bells
  • telephone repeater bells.

What is the law?

Amplified devices must not exceed the noise limits below when measured from within an affected building:

  • 10.00pm to 7.00am Monday to Friday - no clearly audible noise
  • 7.00am to 10.00pm Monday to Friday - no more than 10 decibels (A) above background noise
  • 6.00pm to 8.00am Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday - no clearly audible noise
  • 8.00am to 6.00pm Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday - no more than 10 decibels (A) above background noise.

How does council determine compliance?

To establish compliance, council undertakes two measurements, one with the amplified device running and the second with it turned off or from a similar location not affected by the noise. Both measurements must be taken from the affected building. This is usually from within a room inside your home..

The measurement with the amplified device running is called the source noise and when it's not present it is called the background. The two results can be analysed to determine how much an amplified device is operating above the background noise level.

What happens if there is a breach of the law?

Where it is determined there has been a breach of the Act, council has a number of enforcement options available where regulatory powers are devolved. The individual is assessed against council's enforcement framework and depending on individual circumstances it could result in one of the following outcomes:

  • issuing a warning
  • issuing a direction notice
  • issuing an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine)
  • prosecution.

Exemptions

The Act lists some exemptions, including if you have a limit specified within a development approval. If you have a condition specified in a development approval you will need to comply with it.

How to lodge a complaint

Council recommends that prior to lodging a complaint that you take steps to try and resolve the issue with the person causing the noise. This could be by writing to or speaking with to the person causing the noise.

If you are unable to resolve the matter directly you will need to contact council to lodge a complaint. As part of the complaints process you will be asked to complete a nuisance diary and council will write the person causing the noise asking them to try to resolve the matter.

Council will advise you how long to keep the diary, this is usually 21 days. If at the end of the diary period the noise is still causing a nuisance, council will need to attend your property to verify the noise is above the limits when measured from within an affected building.

Council must conduct the assessment from within the affected building. If the noise is affecting your home you will need to allow council entry inside your home to undertake an assessment.

Contact council to lodge complaint and request a nuisance diary.