Community safety

It's everybody's job to keep Port Stephens safe for our community and those who visit.

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 2 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 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).

Online mapping portal

Find out more about alcohol-free zones in Port Stephens by visiting our mapping portal.

Park signs should be read to determine whether alcohol is prohibited in specific areas.

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 (PDF 729KB). This plan outlines our priority community safety initiatives and which crimes are being targeted to ensure the safety of our community.


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. If you see graffiti on Council buildings, report it as soon as possible. These facilities may 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 owner or landlord must remove graffiti at their own cost.

Graffiti removal kits

Residents can get kits for removing graffiti on private property from our Administration Building 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. Consider the impact of the following:

  • loudness of the noise
  • type of noise
  • frequency 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 certain equipment can be used on a residential premises.


It's the responsibility of the owner of any animal to make sure that it does not cause a problem for other residents.

Poultry, including fowl and roosters, can sometimes be a source of noise which can be disruptive for the neighbouring properties. If you have been affected by these types of noises, you can take the following steps to eradicate or minimise the disruption:

  1. If you are experiencing excessive animal noise, you are encouraged to talk to your neighbour first. If the problem continues, contact us on 4988 0255 to make a formal complaint.
  2. One of our Environmental Health Officers will assess the case and, if appropriate, we will send a standard noise rooster letter to the offending property requesting action be taken to address the noise issue within 14 days from the day of the letter.
  3. Should the noise persist, we will send a noise diary to the complainant, requesting it is completed for a minimum period of 7 consecutive days.
  4. An Environmental Health Officer will attend the property in question or establish contact to discuss the removal and rehoming of the rooster as deemed appropriate

Further information about the requirements for the keeping of birds or animals, including swine, poultry, horses and cattle, are detailed under the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021 and State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.


Council has a role in investigating and dealing with owners of dogs creating unreasonable levels of noise.

What is unreasonable dog noise?
  • Barking that occurs after 8pm and before 7am on consecutive days/nights.
  • Repeated barking of more than 15 minutes on more than 3 occasions between 7am and 8pm on consecutive days (this is a guide only and does not necessarily constitute offensive noise).

Nearly all dogs will bark for various reasons and this alone 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.

How can Council help?

STEP 1: Dog barks excessively. Talk to your neighbour. Council will assist once you have attempted to approach the dog owners. The dog owners may not be aware of the problem.

STEP 2: Report to Council. Provide as much information as possible regarding the type, times and duration of the noise. Council officers will contact the dog owner, explain the nature of the complaint and give some tips to try to minimise the noise. Officers will give the dog owner 14 days from this time to make changes to reduce the noise. If after this time the noise continues.

STEP 3: An approved Council noise diary and statement must be completed at this time. Please fill out for a period of 7 days. When completed, return it to Council (ANY DIARIES RECEIVED MORE THAN 7 DAYS AFTER THE EVENT ARE NOT ABLE TO BE USED).


  • Dog noise is deemed offensive: Council officers may issue a Noise Abatement Direction (valid for 28 days) and give advice to the owner on how to reduce barking.
  • Dog noise is not deemed offensive: No further action will be taken by Council. Refer to the Community Justice Centre or private civil action.

STEP 4: Barking continues. Complete additional diary/s and submit to Council.


  • If noise is deemed offensive and has occurred within 28 days of the Noise Abatement Direction: Council officers may issue infringements for breach of the direction and issue a further Noise Abatement Direction
  • After 28 days: consider issuing further Noise abatement Direction or Nuisance Order.

STEP 5: Barking continues. Complete additional diary/s and submit to Council.

Outcome: As per STEP 4

STEP 6: Barking continues. Complete additional diary/s and submit to Council.


  • If noise is deemed offensive and has occurred within 28 days of the Noise Abatement Direction: Council officers may issue infringements for breach of the direction. Consider the issue of Nuisance Order or Prevention Notice.
  • After 28 days: consider issuing Nuisance Order or Prevention Notice

Note: If a Prevention Notice is issued, it does not expire. Heavy penalties apply for breaching a Prevention Notice. Court action will be considered at this time.


You should always talk to your neighbour to try and resolve it first.

Council only has 7 days from the offensive noise occurring to issue noise abatement directions so return your diary as soon as it is complete.

Not all barking is unreasonable; it is only unreasonable if it affects your activities at home.

If your diary is not completed it will be returned pending more information.

If your diary has false entries you may be fined for providing false and misleading information.

Please see our Policies page for our Dog Noise Policy.

Download the Dog Noise Nuisance Statement and Diary Form from our Forms page.

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.


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 hours of work
Normal constructionMonday to Friday: 7am to 6pm
Saturday: 8am to 1pm
Sundays and public holidays: no work
BlastingMonday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Saturday: 9am to 1pm
Sundays and public holidays: no work

There is restrictions on the noise made by parties and party-goers.

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 before a public holidaymidnight to 8am
Any other day10pm
 to 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 properties shouldn't be heard from a neighbour's residence.

An offence occurs if the noise continues after a warning has been given by a council or police officer.

NoiseTime restrictions
Power tools Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday: 8pm to 8am
Any other day: 8pm to 7am
Pumps and heat water pumpsSaturday, Sunday or a public holiday: 8pm to 8am
Any other day: 8pm to 7am
MusicFriday, Saturday or before a public holiday: midnight to 8am
Any other day: 10pm to 8am
Air conditioner or water heater Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday: 8pm to 8am
Any other day: 8pm to 7am
Motor vehiclesSaturday, Sunday or a public holiday: 8pm to 8am
Any other day: 8pm to 7am
Refrigeration unit attached to motor vehicleSaturday, Sunday or a public holiday: 8pm to 8am
Any other day: 8pm to 7am
When to contact Council with a complaint?

Council can get involved once the offensive noise has been confirmed.

We have a range of options available:

  • 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.

Open burning

In certain circumstances, open burning is allowed in Port Stephens 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.

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’ and ‘Total Fire Ban’ declarations
  • Land managers/owners must contact the Lower Hunter Rural Fire Service 24 hours prior to lighting via or phone 1800 890 533. If burning over the weekend, please phone between 9.00am and 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 and Rescue NSW fire district is subject to a permit from Fire and Rescue New South Wales and any additional conditions contained in that permit