Noise can be annoying, interfere with speech, disturb sleep or interrupt work. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can also result in increased heart rate, anxiety, hearing loss and other health effects. The impacts of noise depend on the noise level, its characteristics and how it is perceived by the person affected.
In NSW, noise pollution is regulated through the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). The POEO (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 (currently being reviewed) also sets certain limits on noise emissions from motor vehicles, vessels and domestic use of certain equipment.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) shares responsibility for enforcing noise control regulations with local government, NSW Police and NSW Roads and Maritime Services (see Reporting noise pollution).
It is important for anyone involved in disputes over noise pollution to be aware of the needs of both parties and consider objectively whether the noise generated would be broadly accepted by the community within the context of that noise (time, character, level etc.). Understanding that what is music to one person might be offensive noise to another is critical. In responding to noise complaints, an authorised officer will take the approach of what a 'reasonable person' would consider offensive.
Noise pollution topics
Noise in the 2012 State of the Environment report
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Page last updated: 19 May 2016