Noise

Noise can affect different people in different ways. What's acceptable to one person may be offensive to another.

Time restrictions when noise from residential premises should not be heard inside a neighbour's house:

Noise source – from residential premises Time restrictions when noise should not be heard in a habitable room in a neighbour's house Contact

Power tools and equipment (powered garden tools – e.g. lawn mowers and leaf blowers – electric or pneumatic tools, chainsaws, circular saws, gas or air compressors, and swimming pool or spa pumps)

  • Before 8am and after 8pm on Sundays and public holidays
  • Before 7am and after 8pm on any other day

Local council or police

Musical instruments and electrically amplified sound equipment (e.g. radios, TVs, tape recorders, CD and DVD players, and home theatre systems)

  • Before 8am and after midnight on any Friday, Saturday, or the day immediately before a public holiday
  • Before 8am and after 10pm on any other day

Local council or police

Air conditioners and heat pump water heaters

  • Before 8am and after 8pm on weekends and public holidays
  • Before 7am and after 8pm on any other day

Local council or police

Motor vehicles (except when entering or leaving residential premises)

  • Before 8am and after 8pm on weekends and public holidays
  • Before 7am and after 8pm on any other day

Local council or police

Refrigeration units fitted to motor vehicles

  • Before 8am and after 10pm on weekends and public holidays
  • Before 7am and after 8pm on any other day

Local council or police

How is offensive noise measured?

Any noise from a noise source that exceeds 5 decibels [dB(A)] above the background level may be offensive. The background noise level is measured without the problem noise source occurring and excluding unrelated noise such as traffic or rail noise. The background level will vary depending on the time of day and the location of the property. The minimum background level used in noise assessment is 30 dB(A).

Your options if noise is a problem

First, try to solve the problem amicably by talking to whoever is causing the noise. Instead of involving council, this approach also helps to maintain good relations with your neighbour.

  • If the noise continues you can contact a Community Justice Centre to try and arrange mediation with your neighbour. These are government funded independent centres specialising in settling differences between neighbours without entering into complicated legal processes.
  • Seek a noise abatement order. Regardless of any council action, you can seek a noise abatement order through the Chamber Magistrate in your local court. If the court is satisfied that the neighbour is causing an offensive noise or that the noise is likely to recur, it may order them to stop the noise or prevent a recurrence.

What to report to Council

Typical noise complaints we will investigate are:

  • Neighbourhood noise – animal noise, power tools, loud music, air conditioners, pool pumps etc.
  • Smaller factories and backyard workshops
  • Commercial premises – ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration
  • Noisy motor vehicles in public places
  • Noisy motor vehicles on private property
  • Road construction on council roads (for state-managed roads, you need to contact NSW Roads and Maritime Services)
  • Building construction
  • Noise from sporting facilities including motorsport noise or noise from gun/rifle/pistol clubs
  • Concert noise
  • Alarms, e.g. security and building alarms, car alarms

How to report noise

You can contact your local police station for urgent noise problems.

If the noise is an ongoing problem you can contact Council using this online form.

Report an ongoing noise problem to Council

Council investigation process

We take the following factors into consideration:

  • Noise level, nature, character or quality, or the time at which it is made, or any other circumstances
  • Whether it's harmful (or is likely to be harmful) to a person who's outside the premises from which it's emitted
  • Whether it interferes unreasonably (or is likely to interfere unreasonably) with the comfort or repose of a person who's outside the premises from which it's emitted

If, following investigation, noise is considered offensive, actions we can take under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, include issuing:

  • a prevention notice
  • a noise control notice

Noise from air conditioners and heat pump hot water systems

You need council approval to install an air conditioning unit unless it meets the exempt development criteria.

Tips

  • Buy one that won't cause a noise nuisance to your neighbours – even if you've been told that it complies with noise requirements, it doesn't mean it's going to suit every location all the time.
  • Locate the equipment away from your neighbour's bedroom and living room windows.
  • Locating the unit close to a common boundary adjacent to your neighbour's dwelling is likely to cause a noise problem to your neighbour that may result in the council becoming involved, and you having to either reduce the impact of the sound or relocate the unit, both of which can be expensive.

Use a noise calculator

Each air conditioning unit or heat pump hot water system will have a 'sound power level' provided in its manufacturers specification or on a label attached to the equipment.

Before buying, use this online noise calculator to determine if a unit is suitable for your chosen location. Enter the site-specific details for your location and the calculator will provide maximum sound power levels for operation both at night and during the day. Compare these levels with those for the unit you are assessing. If the levels exceed the calculator levels the unit may create a noise nuisance to your neighbour. The calculator is a guide only and it is advisable to discuss your situation with the installer or manufacturer prior to purchase.

More information

Enquiries

Enquiries can be directed to Council's environmental health officers on 02 9392 5000 or council@innerwest.nsw.gov.au

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Page last updated: 19 Sep 2019