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Community safety

It's everybody's job to keep Port Stephens safe for our community and those who visit. Find out about alcohol free zones, alcohol prohibited zones, graffiti, noise control and crime prevention.

Alcohol areas

There are restrictions on where alcohol can be consumed to ensure Port Stephens is a safe place for all residents and visitors to enjoy. There are two types of restrictions:

  1. Alcohol free zones — consumption of alcohol is prohibited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. Alcohol prohibited areas — consumption of alcohol is prohibited between specified hours, usually found in parks, beaches, reserves and ovals.
Temporary alcohol bans for special events

On New Year’s Eve and Australia Day, Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay Foreshores (including beaches) are all alcohol prohibited areas. See dates, locations and times outlined on the Special Events map (PDF 420KB).

Crime prevention

Port Stephens Council is committed to achieving goals to reduce rates of crime, re-offending and anti-social behaviour.

We worked closely with the Port Stephens Police to create the Crime Prevention Plan (CPP) (PDF 729KB). This plan outlines our priority community safety initiatives and which crimes are being targeted to ensure the safety of our community.

Graffiti

Graffiti is marking or defacing property without permission and is an illegal offence.

Who's responsibility is it to clean up?

It is our responsibility to clean up graffiti on Council facilities as soon as possible. If you see graffiti on Council buildings, report it on 02 4988 0255 as soon as possible. Some of our facilities which may be impacted by graffiti include:

  • Council buildings like libraries
  • parks, playgrounds and facilities like toilet blocks
  • sporting facilities.

Council is not responsible for removing graffiti on buildings we do not own. The building owner or landlord is responsible for cleaning any graffiti at their own cost.

Graffiti removal kits

Residents can get graffiti removal kits for removing graffiti on private property from Council's Customer Service Desk in Raymond Terrace

Noise complaints

When keeping noisy animals, renovating a house, hosting a party or playing a musical instrument you need to consider the impact this noise might have on your neighbours. It is important to know what noise restrictions there are in your area for certain types of noise and who to contact should a noise issue arise.

Consider the impact of the following:

  • loudness of the noise
  • type of noise
  • frequence of noise
  • time and duration of the noise
  • number of people affected by the noise.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 restricts the times that certain equipment can be used on a residential premises.

Type of noise complaints

Animal noise is one of the biggest factors of neighbourhood disputes.

Animal noise can include barking dogs, bleating goats and roosters. While Council recommends against keeping some of these animals as residential pets, it is not an offence to keep them so long as they are not creating a nuisance. Noise from residential animals is managed under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), using the offensive noise test.

Dog noise

In most nuisance dog cases, all that is required is for someone from the Council to explain to the dog owner that there is problem. Often, the dog owners aren’t aware that there is a problem and are more than willing to act once it is brought to their attention.

In other instances, owner will refuse to accept the complaint, in which case further action may be required.

Nearly all dogs will bark for various reasons but this does not make the noise unreasonable or offensive. The noise needs to be at such a level and frequency as to have a detrimental effect on your normal daily activities.

Further information:

How can I stop my dog from barking excessively?

Some of the most practical and common ways to reduce the instances of dogs barking include:

  • Reducing the number of dogs kept on the premises.
  • Restricting the dogs visibility to the outside of the property.
  • Increasing the dogs exercise regime and undertaking dog training.
  • Toys and bones to entertain dogs boredom during waking hours.
  • Citronella collars can help train the dog when you are not around.
  • Some dogs may have anxiety that can only be controlled with prescribed medication.

Often there is no single solution to controlling your dogs barking and it may take a combination of measures to get it to an acceptable level and in some cases you may need to seek professional help from your local Vet or a Dog behaviour specialist.

Construction site operators, owner-builders and public authority developments need to comply with noise-restriction regulators under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Councils can control noise by outlining conditions in development applications.

Guidance on acceptable noise levels can be found in the NSW Interim Construction Noise Guideline.

Hours

The NSW Interim Construction Guideline recommends standard hours of operation as outlined below, however these are only recommendations, and different hours may be approved by Council.

Work typeRecommended standard hours of work
Normal construction

Monday - Friday: 7am - 6pm

Saturday: 8am - 1pm

No work on Sundays or public holidays

Blasting

Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - 1pm

No work on Sundays or public holidays

There are restrictions on the noise made by parties.

Noise from music that can be heard in any habitable rooms of a neighbouring residence is restricted by the following:

Friday, Saturday or any day preceding a public holidaymidnight - 8am
Any other day10pm - 8am

An offence occurs once a warning has been given by Council or a police officer and the noise continues.

If you require immediate action for after hours noise complaints contact the Police Assistance Line on 131 444

Hosting a party?

  • Speak with your neighbours in advance so that they know about your party plans.
  • Ask guests to be considerate of your neighbours when arriving and departing.
  • Move indoors to keep noise levels at a minimum.
  • Be thoughtful when using a sound system.

The Protection of the Environment (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 covers neighbourhood noise laws. There are time restrictions on when noise from residential premises should not be heard inside a neighbour's residence. An offence occurs if the noise continues after a warning has been given by a council or police officer.

Noise sourceTime restrictions
Power tools

8pm - 8am: Saturday, Sunday or public holiday

8pm - 7am: any other day

Pumps and heat water pumps (incl. swimming pool and spa pumps)

8pm - 8am: Saturday, Sunday or public holiday

8pm - 7am: any other day

Music

Midnight - 8am: Friday, Saturday or any day preceding a public holiday

10pm - 8am: any other day

Air conditioner or water heater

10pm - 8am: Saturday, Sunday or public holiday

10pm - 7am: any other day

Motor vehicles (except when entering or leaving residential premises)

8pm - 8am: Saturday, Sunday or public holiday

8pm - 7am: any other day

Refrigeration unit fitted to motor vehicles

8pm - 8am: Saturday, Sunday or public holiday

8pm - 7am: any other day

What to do if you have a complaint

The majority of complaints about noise are from neighbours. Before taking formal steps to complain about noise contact your neighbour to discuss the problem and try to work out a solution. Be tactful when bringing the complaint to their notice as often people do not realise they are causing a problem and are usually able to resolve the issue quickly.

Where offensive noise has been confirmed Council can become involved and will take the action to address the issue.

Council has a range of enforcement options including:

  • Noise Control Notices
  • Noise Abatement Directions and Prevention Notices
  • Fines may be issued
  • Legal action taken can be taken for non-compliance with these notices.

Report an issue to Council

Contacting Council regarding noisy dogs:

  1. Download the Dog Noise Diary Statement and Log Sheet from our A-Z forms page.
  2. Before contacting Council, complete the noisy diary log sheet for a period of 10 days.

The information you provide within this diary will help us to give you the appropriate advice and also allow us to understand the best time to visit and witness the offending noise. The diary may also provide vital evidence should we need to take any formal action on your behalf.

If your diary is not completed it will be returned pending more information. If your diary has any false entries you may be fined for providing false and misleading information.

If, after initially speaking with your neighbours the issue cannot be resolved, you can go to the Community Justice Centre. These Centres provide conflict management and mediation services in NSW.

Contact a Community Justice Centre (CJC) for further advice.

A noise abatement order can be issued by local courts to stop offensive noise, or stop it from reoccurring. Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) a resident or a person in a commercial or industrial premises who is affected by offensive noise can seek a noise abatement order.

Contact the registry staff at your local court for assistance in the process of issuing this type of order. There may be associated fees involved.

Please make sure that you speak with your legal advisor should you choose to take this course of action or make an appointment to see the chamber magistrate at the Local Court.

Open burning

Open burning is allowed in Port Stephens in certain cases under the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010. If you are unsure whether you are able to conduct open burning on your property, contact Council or the Lower Hunter Rural Fire Service.

Frequently asked questions

The short answer to this question is no.
Burning general waste is prohibited under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010.

Property owners can burn tree branches and vegetative material on their premises if their allotment is greater than 4000 square metres in area and zoned Rural RU1, RU2, RU3, RU5 and Large Lot Residential R5 under Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013. However, permission to burn tree waste on approved properties is subject to the following conditions:

  • Open fires must be at least 25m away from any residential dwelling or major building (as defined by the NSW Rural Fire Service publication Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code)
  • Adjacent property owners must be given a minimum of 24 hours notice (verbal or written) of an intention to burn
  • An open fire must be supervised at all times
  • All combustible material within a 4.5 metre radius of the fire must be removed
  • Only one pile of vegetation may be burnt on any parcel of land at any one time, with the maximum size of any such pile to be 4m in diameter and 1.5m in height
  • Burning should only take place when weather conditions are calm and predicted to remain so
  • Burning should not cause a smoke hazard
  • Approval to burn does not apply during proclaimed ‘No burn Days’, ‘Total Fire Ban’ declarations or when the Fire Danger Rating is ‘Very High’ or above
  • Land managers/owners must contact the Lower Hunter Rural Fire Service 24 hours prior to lighting on 4015 0000. If burning over the weekend, please phone between 9.00am-4.30pm on the Friday prior, to advise of burning.
  • Approval to burn in the open during the Statutory Bush Fire Danger Period is subject to a permit from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and any additional conditions contained in the permit
  • Approval to burn in the open at any time during the year on properties within a Fire & Rescue NSW fire district is subject to a permit from Fire & Rescue New South Wales and any additional conditions contained in that permit

The short answer to the above question is no.

Open burning in the Port Stephens LGA is permitted only in the following circumstances:

  • On parcels of land not less than 4000 square metres and zoned RU1, RU2, RU3, RU5 and R5 on which the vegetation grew (*subject to conditions)
  • As part of an agricultural operation (eg: burning stubble, orchard prunings, diseased crops, weeds or pest animal habitats, pasture for regenerative purposes or any other legitimate agricultural activity)
  • For cooking or barbequing
  • To conduct a fire for recreational purposes (eg: camping, scouting, and picnicking)
  • To conduct training in methods of firefighting by an authorised person
  • In a licensed incinerator meeting the requirements of the Environment Protection Authority
  • To carry out bush fire hazard reduction work under the Rural Fires Act 1997
  • To burn an animal that has died or is suspected to have died of a disease proclaimed under the Stock Diseases Act 1923 or the Exotic Diseases of Animals Act 1991
  • A permit must be obtained where a fire is likely to be dangerous to any building on the land. During the Statutory Fire Danger Period fires are not permitted unless a Permit has been obtained from the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Approval to burn does not apply during proclaimed ‘No burn Days’, ‘Total Fire Ban’ declarations or when the Fire Danger Rating is ‘Very High’ or above.

Approval to burn in the open during the Statutory Bush Fire Danger Period is subject to a permit from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and any additional conditions contained in the permit.

Approval to burn in the open at any time during the year on properties within a Fire & Rescue NSW fire district is subject to a permit from Fire & Rescue New South Wales and any additional conditions contained in that permit

Authorised Officers of Council and certain officers of other authorities are empowered to serve Penalty Infringement Notices where it can be established that there has been a breach of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010.

The fines associated with Penalty Infringement Notices are set by the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010.

Lower Hunter Rural Fire Service
02 4015 0000
For 24 hour permits 1800 890 533

Email: lower.hunter@rfs.nsw.gov.au

Or contact your local Fire and Rescue station:

Raymond Terrace Fire and Rescue
02 4987 2627

Salamander Bay Fire and Rescue
02 4981 1376

Overgrown properties

Overgrown properties can be concerning for neighbours. Find out what an overgrown property is and what you can do about it.

What is an overgrown property:

For a property to be considered overgrown, it must meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • located in a residential zone
  • confirmed to be home to vermin likely to create unsafe or unhealthy condition
  • vegetation must be more than about 600mm in height and cover a significant portion of the property
  • overgrowth poses a bushfire hazard
What can I do?

The first step is to speak to the property owner directly.

If this does not resolve the problem, you can report an overgrown property to Council if it meets the above criteria. We may not be able to assist if the property is not considered to be an unsafe or unhealthy environment.