Loud music, barking dogs, power tools - depending on the time of day, these can all be considered noise pollution. The Northern Beaches Council and police share responsibility for regulating noise pollution, and there are guidelines you can follow to do the right thing.
Planning rules relaxed for construction hours
The property and construction industry accounts for almost 400,000 jobs and 10% of the NSW economy. In order to keep work sites and jobs flowing during COVID-19, the State Government has made a Direction that standard construction hours can been extended to include weekends and public holidays. During these extended hours such works cannot include rock breaking, rock hammering, pile driving or similar activities.
For further information please visit NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
Times when noise is prohibited
It’s only fair that your neighbours should be able to enjoy their own property. Equally, it’s also fair that they don’t stop you from enjoying yours. You can easily check all residential time restrictions on the Office of Environment and Heritage website. Be mindful of when noise from residential premises should not be heard inside a neighbour's residence.
When noise is not allowed
During these times, noise should not be heard in a habitable room in a neighbour's residence:
- Power tools and equipment
8pm–8am Sun and public holidays
- Air conditioners and pumps
10pm–8am Sat, Sun and public holidays
- Musical instruments, TV, hi-fi, etc
12am– 8am Fri, Sat or any day before a public holiday
10pm–8am any other day
What to do when it’s too loud
Try talking to your neighbour or the person causing the noise first. They may not realise their noise is a problem and will be happy to oblige. It’s always better to solve the problem yourself by being solution focussed. If possible, make contacting the Council or local police a last resort.
Where to get help
It can be hard to approach people with issues relating to noise. You’ll find a lot of valuable information on dealing with neighbourhood noise on the the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) website. There is information to help you regarding barking dogs, intruder alarms as well as noise from vehicles.
Consider Community Justice Centres (CJC)
If talking to your neighbour isn’t an option, or doesn’t work and noise continues, try contacting a Community Justice Centre (CJC) for free mediation. It’s a government funded but independent body that specialises in settling differences between individuals without starting legal processes. They can help you and your neighbour find a peaceful resolution.
How to report noise pollution
If all else fails, please report your noise pollution issue. Please include the time, date and duration of the noise, the type and sound of the noise, the likely noise source and your contact details. If you need to place an urgent complaint, contact your local police station.
The Noise App
To make a report to Council about residential noise, we recommend you download and use “The Noise App”.
It records samples of noise as well as the date and time that it is occurring. It also allows you to tell us how the noise affects you, how loud the noise is, where the noise comes from, how long and often it can be heard. You can take multiple recordings for each time the noise occurs which helps show that the issue is ongoing
The information and the noise recordings submitted via this app is used to assist us in investigating the matter.
The Noise App allows an accurate record of noise nuisance, with the exception of Barking Dogs, a description of the noise source and how it affects you. When completed a report will immediately be sent to Council’s officers for review to determine what action is required.
Before using the noise app or lodging a complaint with Council, you are advised to review the below definition of offensive noise under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
Offensive noise means noise:
(a) that, by reason of its level, nature, character or quality, or the time at which it is made, or any other circumstances:
(i) is harmful to (or is likely to be harmful to) a person who is outside the premises from which it is emitted, or
(ii) interferes unreasonably with (or is likely to interfere unreasonably with) the comfort or repose of a person who is outside the premises from which it is emitted, or
(b) that is of a level, nature, character or quality prescribed by the regulations or that is made at a time, or in other circumstances, prescribed by the regulations.
Council has power to regulate noise from a fixed source on residential or commercial property when it is deemed offensive but will not regulate the following noise sources;
- After hours behavioural noise such as people talking loudly, parties or amplified music.
- Noise from an EPA licenced premise or premise with a liquor licence.
- Noise in an area and not from a specific location.
In addition, please consider the following questions as a guide when submitting noise report and/or lodging an enquiry with Council:
- Is the noise loud in an absolute sense? Is it loud relative to other noise in the area?
- Does the noise include characteristics that make it particularly irritating?
- Does the noise occur at times when people expect to enjoy peace and quiet?
- Is the noise atypical for the area?
- Does the noise occur often?
- Are a number of people affected by the noise?
If the majority of the answers to the above questions are yes, then you are encouraged to use the Noise App and raise an enquiry with Council Environmental Health team for further investigation and where applicable appropriate enforcement action.