Noise can affect different people in different ways. What is acceptable to one person may be offensive to another.
There are certain definitions of offensive noise and restrictions depending on the times of use of certain equipment.
When using equipment or prior to making a complaint check the noise restrictions and guidelines to find out what are acceptable noise levels and when you can make a noise complaint. There are restrictions about the times of use of certain equipment and the level of noise from barking dogs, building sites, air conditioners and other devices.
It is important for anyone involved in resolving disputes over noise pollution to realise that what is acceptable to one person might be offensive noise to another. In responding to noise complaints, an authorised officer will take the approach of what a ‘reasonable person’ would consider offensive.
Acceptable noise levels and complaints
Noise can disrupt sleep and interfere with daily activities. If loud enough, it can also have a negative impact on people’s health. The following time restrictions apply for when noise should not be heard inside a habitable room, such as a bedroom or living area, with or without windows or doors open or closed, in a neighbours residence.
Item / Activity
| Power Tools & Equipment
||8pm to 8am Sundays and public holidays
8pm to 7am any other day
Musical Instruments & Sound Systems
12 midnight to 8am Friday, Saturday and any day immediately before a public holiday
10pm to 8am any other day
10pm to 8am Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday 10pm until 7am any other day
Motor vehicles, except when entering or leaving premises
8pm to 7am Monday to Friday
8pm to 8am Saturdays, Sunday and public holidays
Refrigeration units fitted to motor vehicles
8pm to 7am, Monday to Friday
8pm to 8am Saturday, Sunday and public holidays
When is noise considered offensive?
No specific offensive noise level is specified in legislation. Whether a particular noise is offensive is determined by an authorised officer of the council, and based on several factors:
- noise level
- nature of the noise
- character or quality of the noise
- the time at which it is made
- whether it interferes unreasonably with the comfort or repose of a person who's outside the premises from which it's emitted
- the background noise level (the level of noise present without the noise being investigated)
Who deals with noise complaints?
Council does not deal with all noise complaints. Here is a simple guide of who to call if you have a noise complaint:
Police: 02 8338 7399
- Music & loud stereos
- Rowdy behaviour
- Burglar alarms out of hours.
- Off-road noisy vehicles and trail bikes
NSW Environment Protection Authority: 131 555
- Kingsford Smith Airport (Sydney Airport).
- State Government properties or activities
- Sydney Port - Botany Bay
For all other noise complaints, please contact Council on 9366 3666 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Outside of business hours you can contact a Council Ranger on 02 936 6 3562.
The Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) System is used to assess and forecast aircraft noise and for land-use planning around airports. It is based on a forecast of aircraft movement numbers, aircraft types, destinations and the location of runways at the airport. The ANEF is a set of contours predicting the future aircraft noise level near an airport. It is created as a land use planning tool to manage sensitive land uses around the airports. ANEF contours are categorised into 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40. The higher the contour value, the greater the noise impact.
Reference to ANEF levels and the relevant Australian Standard can be used as a tool to assist in planning for new development proposed near airports and it provides guidance on the siting and construction of buildings impacted by aircraft noise and determining what measures might be used to reduce the impacts and provide acceptable indoor sound levels. AS 2021-2000 also provides guidance to State & Local Government authorities regarding land use planning, building construction and on the acoustic adequacy of existing buildings in areas in the vicinity of airports and aircraft fight paths.
Industrial Noise Policy
The NSW Environment Protection Authority Industrial Noise Policy aims to balance the need for industrial activity with the desire for quiet in the community. The policy outlines processes to help strike a feasible and reasonable balance between the establishment and operation of industrial and commercial activities and the protection of the community from noise levels that are intrusive or unpleasant.
The policy provides the framework and process for deriving noise limit conditions for consents that enables the Council to regulate commercial and industrial premises. The assessment procedure for industrial noise sources has two components:
- controlling intrusive noise impacts in the short term for residences
- maintaining noise level amenity for particular land uses, such as residents, schools and commercial businesses.
Transportation noise is handled by various agencies:
Assistance for residents
Assistance with resolving noise issues with neighbours can also be sought from a Community Justice Centre who can provide mediation services and from the NSW Department of Fair Trading for assistance in resolving strata scheme issues.