Noise can be annoying, interfere with speech, disturb sleep or interfere with work. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can also result in increased heart rate, anxiety, hearing loss and other health effects. The impacts of noise depend both on the noise level and its characteristics and how it is perceived by the person affected.
In NSW, noise pollution is regulated through the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). The POEO (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 also sets certain limits on noise emissions from motor vehicles, vessels and domestic use of certain equipment.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) shares responsibility for enforcing noise control regulations with local government, NSW Police and NSW Roads and Maritime Services (see Reporting noise pollution).
It is important for anyone involved in resolving disputes over noise pollution to realise that what is music 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.
Find out more about the following noise pollution topics
- the Interim Construction Noise Guideline, which provides guidance on assessing and minimising noise from construction works
- information on noise control legislation and who is responsible for enforcing it
- the NSW Industrial Noise Policy, which promotes environmental well-being through preventing and minimising industrial noise
- the NSW Road Noise Policy, which provides guidance for assessing and managing the impacts from road traffic noise
- the Noise Guide for Local Government, which aims to provide practical guidance to council officers in the day-to-day management of local noise problems and the interpretation of existing policy and legislation.
- resources for dealing with noise, including neighbourhood noise, barking dogs, intruder alarms and vehicle noise and how to seek a noise abatement order
- guidance for the installation of heat pump water heaters as included in Appendix 3 to Part 5 of the Noise Guide for Local Government
- contacts for reporting noise pollution
- Interim Guidelines for the Assessment of Noise from Rail Infrastructure Projects, which address noise and vibration from new rail infrastructure projects and are designed to ensure potential noise impacts are assessed in a consistent and transparent manner
- a technical guideline for assessing vibration, which presents preferred and maximum vibration values for use in assessing human responses to vibration and provides recommendations for measurement and evaluation techniques
- a summary of the 2004 Neighbourhood Noise Survey, designed to enhance understanding of the issues surrounding neighbourhood noise in NSW.
Noise in the 2012 State of the Environment report
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Page last updated: 01 March 2013