We have detected that you are running an unsupported version of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Please upgrade to version 9 or above for the best experience of this website

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.

What is offensive noise?

‘Offensive noise’ is as any noise which is offensive to a person on another residential property due to its level, character, tone or due to the time at which it is made.

Consider the following when determining whether noise would be offensive or not:

  • loudness of the noise;
  • character of the noise;
  • time and duration of the noise;
  • the noise is typical for the area;
  • often the noise occurs; and
  • 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.

The purpose of this regulation is to minimise noise from residential premises when people are likely to be sleeping or resting. Noise must not be able to be heard in a habitable room (bedroom, living room) of a neighbouring property during restricted hours.

Types of offensive noise

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.

Contact

Port Stephens Council’s Rangers and Compliance Section
Ph: 02 4988 0255
Email: council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au