Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Noise legislation

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the appropriate regulatory authority responsible for regulating noise from activities scheduled under the Act and activities carried out by public authorities. Local councils are largely responsible for the management of noise in relation to non-scheduled activities, with local police also involved in neighbourhood noise issues. NSW Maritime enforces noise controls for marine vessels.

Premises conducting scheduled activities are required to hold an environment protection licence which the EPA uses to apply appropriate noise control conditions. Councils can also control noise through conditions determined by them as part of development consents issued under the planning legislation and through notices or directions under the POEO Act.

The POEO (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 addresses common noisy activities that occur in residential situations. It limits the time of day that noisy articles (such as lawn mowers, stereos and leaf blowers) are permitted to be heard in neighbouring residences. It includes provisions regarding motor vehicles (including noise limits) and addresses noise from marine vessels. It also formalises methods for measuring noise from shooting ranges.

Potentially noisy activities

Most potentially noisy activities regulated by councils are not the subject of specific limits or controls. It is an offence under the POEO Act if noise is emitted from premises because of the occupier's failure to maintain or operate plant or deal with materials in a proper and efficient manner. Prevention notices, noise control notices and noise abatement directions may also require emissions to be reduced or cease in certain circumstances (such as where offensive noise is being emitted from certain premises). It is an offence not to comply with the notice or direction. Nuisance dogs and cats are covered by the Companion Animals Act 1998 administered by the Minister for Local Government.

Transportation noise is handled by various agencies, with aircraft noise exclusively a Commonwealth Government responsibility except for aircraft maintenance on the ground at privately operated (other than those leased from the Commonwealth) or council-operated airports. Rail noise and noise from the construction of freeways and tollways is generally regulated through licences issued by the EPA. Noise from general traffic on roads is managed by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and councils. Noise from individual vehicles is regulated by RMS, the police and the EPA.

The maximum penalty for a noise control notice under the POEO Act is $60,000 for corporations and $30,000 for individuals, plus daily penalties for continuing offences and the maximum penalty for a prevention notice is $1,000,000 for corporations and $250,000 for individuals, plus daily penalties for continuing offences.

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Page last updated: 01 September 2017