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Excessive Noise (NSW)

Neighbourhood disputes can arise in relation to a range of everyday matters. One common problem is excessive noise caused by or coming from the property of a neighbour. If your neighbour is making excessive noise and you cannot resolve the problem by talking to them, there are a number of measures that you may need to consider taking.

Offensive noise

Offensive noise is noise that is harmful to persons outside the property it is coming from or that interferes unreasonably with the comfort or rest of a person outside of the place it is coming from.

This may be because of the level of the noise, its nature or quality or the time it is made.

Excessive noise caused by animals

Noise caused by barking dogs is regulated by the Companion Animals Act. Under that act, a dog or cat is a nuisance if it persistently makes noise that interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of another person.

Pet owners may be issued with fines for having an animal that is a nuisance.

Noise Control Orders

Section 264 provides that a Noise Control Order can be made to prohibit a person from carrying out a specific activity on premises or from using a specific article on the premises in such a way that causes noise in excess of a certain level.

A person who is given a noise control order may be required to pay any reasonable costs incurred by the authority in the course of monitoring compliance with the notice.

It is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to $30,000 for an individual or $60,000 for a corporation, to contravene a noise control order.

Noise Abatement Orders

A noise abatement order is an order of the Local Court requiring the person responsible for excessive noise to stop making the noise for as long as the order remains in force.

To apply for a Noise Abatement Order, you must fill in a form, file it with your Local Court (ad pay the filing fee) and serve a copy on your neighbour. You will then need to attend court for a mention. If your neighbour opposes the application, the matter will be listed for a hearing. At the hearing, you will need to call evidence to convince the court that the order is needed.

If the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the alleged offensive noise exists or is likely to recur, it can make an order:

  • That the respondent abate the offensive noise;
  • That the respondent prevent the offensive noise from recurring.

It is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to 30 penalty units, to contravene a noise abatement order.

Noise Abatement Directions

Under Section 276, a police officer may issue a noise abatement direction where it appears that offensive noise is being emitted from premises. The direction may be:

  • That the occupier of the premises cause the offensive noise to cease; or
  • That any person who is making or contributing to the noise stop doing so.

It is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to 30 penalty units, to contravene a noise abatement direction.

Police powers

The police have the power to enter premises after the issue of a warrant, where they believe that excessive noise is being emitted.

Where a noise abatement direction is being contravened, the police may seize any equipment being used to contravene the direction. Police may only do this after giving a warning that the equipment may be seized if the noise continues. Seized equipment must be returned or released within 28 days.

Other criminal offences

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, there are also several criminal offences relating to causing noise pollution. These are selling articles that emit noise in excess of the prescribed level (Section 136) and selling articles that are required to be fitted with noise control equipment, but are not so fitted (Section 137). Both of these offences carry a maximum fine of $250,000 for an individual or $1,000,000 for a corporation.

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to a neighbourhood dispute or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection, domestic violence and family law in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

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