Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Neighbourhood noise survey - background

This is an extract of a report from a community noise survey done for the former Department of Environment and Conservation in 2004 with the aim of informing the organisation's review of noise regulations, due every five years.


The survey was designed to enhance the understanding of the issues surrounding neighbourhood noise in NSW to enable good policy to be developed allowing fair neighbourhood activity without unduly inconveniencing the community.

The strategic outcomes sought from the survey were to:

  • identify current attitudes, knowledge and behaviours in relation to noise issues
  • inform planning, implementation and evaluation of future legislation, programs and initiatives targeting this issue.

The survey was about understanding how the community experiences, acts and feels in various situations involving neighbourhood noise.

Research objectives

Given that the goal of the survey was to increase knowledge about how the community currently experiences noise, the following primary research objectives were pursued:

  1. Identify the nature and extent of neighbourhood noise impacts being experienced by the NSW community
  2. Identify community awareness of, and attitudes to neighbourhood noise problems
  3. Identify community preferences concerning potential solutions to noise problems – in particular views concerning the appropriate level of restriction on legitimate noise activity such as lawn mowing and using power tools
  4. Gauge the level of public awareness and understanding of current legislation and enforcement options, including what works, what doesn't and what's missing, and to explore aspects of current knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding noise

Study design

The study was based on personal telephone interviews with members of the community.

Sample selection was on a quota basis using two factors: gender to ensure a broad cross-section and location. Location was based on place of residence in inner metro areas, outer suburban areas, and rural and small town areas of NSW. The final database was as follows:


Metro inner



Metro outer suburban



Rural/small town






Who did we speak to?

The study reached a wide cross-section of the NSW community:

Living in different residential circumstances

  • separate housing (N=544)
  • semi-detached, row or terrace, townhouse (N=75) 
  • in flats units or apartments (N=121)
  • owners (N=341)   
  • non owners (N=288) 
  • renters (N=101)

Age groups

  • under 39 (N=295)
  • 40-59 (N=298) and 
  • 60plus (N=157)
Page last updated: 09 May 2013