Noise is unwanted or unpleasant sound and is therefore 'pollution'. It can cause major disturbances and affect human health greatly through loss of sleep, emotional stress and damage to the ear. The Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 stipulate the allowed decibel levels and what is deemed to be 'reasonable' noise. Noise pollution can be a major problem in high density residential areas and the regulations have been designed to ensure acceptable levels are met while being flexible to allow reasonable normal activities to occur such as public events.
Factors such as the amount of traffic, commercial and industrial premises, and the time of day all impact on acceptable levels of noise. To make a complaint regarding a noise issue contact our compliance services team here.
The following are examples of sound levels and sources and the effect on hearing.
What can you do if your neighbour is being noisy?
- Approach your neighbours, as they may be unaware of the discomfort they are causing you and may be only too happy to turn it down.
- Compromise – negotiate with your neighbour and work together to find a solution.
- Inform your neighbour of potential noise prior to the event – if you are planning a party your neighbours will appreciate being told about the event before it happens.
Noise from air conditioners can disturb neighbours. The noise can disrupt sleep, interfere with normal daily activities and can have significant impacts on people's health. Installation of an air conditioner that emits unreasonable noise is illegal. Installers can face penalties of up to $5 000 if they do not meet their legal obligations.
Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1997 places the responsibility on installers to ensure that an air conditioner does not emit unreasonable noise.
An installer's guide to air conditioning noise provides more information on installing air conditioners.
As a result of construction work being conducted Monday to Saturday between 7.00 am and 7.00pm, the assigned noise levels do not apply to noise emitted from a construction site. Noise from construction sites is not exempt from the assigned levels after these hours or on a Sunday or public holiday.
In instances where construction work needs to be done outside these hours, an application must be made to the chief executive officer. Note that the City does not generally approve these unless they are of urgent need. Noise management plans must include:
- details and reasons for construction work likely to be carried out outside the hours of 7.00 am– 7.00 pm
- details of activities on the constructions site likely to result in noise emissions that will not comply with the assigned levels under Regulations 7
- details of durations of such work
- predictions of potential noise emissions on the construction site
- details of measures to be implemented to control noise emissions (including vibration)
- procedures to be adopted for monitoring of noise emissions (including vibration)
- details of complaint response procedures that will be adopted (including contact details to site managers/supervisors etc).
Completed noise management plans must be submitted to the City of Fremantle's environmental health services team for approval 7days before construction can commence.
The Housing Industry Association together with the Department of Environment and Conservation has developed a noise management plan for work from 6.00– 7.00 am from October to April. This plan recognises the risk to workers of exposure to ultraviolet radiation in the summer months. A noise management plan application must be submitted at least 7 days prior to commencement of 6.00 am work.
Radios and stereo systems on a construction site are not exempt and must comply at all times with the assigned noise levels.
Party and stereo noise
Noise from parties can be disturbing, particularly if it is excessively loud or they happen regularly. Generally one-off parties are accepted as normal activity by neighbours but more frequent gatherings can be upsetting.
What should you do if you intend to hold a one-off party at your house?
- Inform your neighbours of the event including date, time of finish and a contact phone number. Generally people will not mind noise from a celebration as long as it is a one-off event on a Friday or Saturday night, and it does not finish late.
- A party on weeknights and Sunday nights are generally not acceptable, but if there is no other time, then a 10.00 pm finish is suggested. On Friday and Saturday nights the finish time should be around midnight.
- Start your party earlier so that it can finish earlier.
- Hold the party inside if possible and close all doors and windows.
- Do not use speakers outside the house.
- Ensure that party goers do not cause a nuisance with offensive language or behaviour while at the party or when leaving.
If the City receives a complaint regarding party noise, then an investigation could lead to seizure of noisy equipment and fines. The Police also have the power to seize equipment.
What should you do if you are affected by party noise?
- Notify your neighbours to make them aware of the noise disturbance. If the noise continues then contact the Police for assistance. The Police have powers to seize noisy equipment and issue infringement notices.
- Contact our compliance services team with your complaint.
Note: If the complaint is relating to foul language and abusive behaviour, the City can not deal with this and all queries should be sent to the Police for assistance.
What happens after you have made a noise complaint?
- The City's officers will contact the noise producer as soon as possible.
- If the issue is not resolved after this then the City will take noise measurements in your home using the 'yellow brick' device. Residents will need to record the noise and associated information as per the instructions.
- Should the results determine that noise levels were excessive the City will inform the noise producer of the results and the penalties that apply.
- If the issue continues, the City has a number of options it can take including Infringements, seizure of noisy equipment, noise abatement direction, environmental protection notice and prosecution.
Planes, trains and vehicles
The Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 do not deal with any noise emitted from aircraft, rail, or vehicles on public roads. This includes the City's rubbish trucks which need to start early to finish their run and especially if the route is along a bus service way. Rubbish or delivery trucks on private property are not exempted from the regulations but it is generally acceptable if they operate after 7.00 am.
For more information contact Main Roads on 13 81 38, Public Transport Authority (Rail) on 08 9326 2000 or Perth or Jandakot Airports.
Other noise sources
- Spa and pool pumps can be considerably annoying especially at night. Ensure your spa or pool pump is only used during the day.
- 'Specified equipment' (equipment that requires the constant presence of an operator for normal use for example, power tools, lawn mower, basketball) are only allowed to be used from Monday to Friday 7.00 am– 7.00 pm and Sundays and Public Holidays 9.00 am–7.00 pm. The maximum time is 2 hours and it must also not unreasonably interfere with the health, comfort or convenience, of an occupier of a premise receiving the noise.
- Musical instruments can only be played for a maximum of 1 hour per day between 7.00 am–7.00 pm Monday to Saturday and 9.00 am–7.00 pm Sundays and Public Holidays. It must also not unreasonably interfere with the health, comfort or convenience, of an occupier of a premise receiving the noise.
- Audible alarms can be annoying if they sound intermittently. The Police can gain entry to premises to switch off the alarm if it has been sounding for more than 30 minutes. The City's officers do not have right of entry and can only assist.
- Vehicle reversing beepers are exempt from the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 as these are safety devices required to alert persons of a moving vehicle that the driver may not be able to see behind them.