Standards, compliance and planning

Outdoor venue noise


State environment protection policy

There are special requirements for outdoor venue noise. This page clarifies the State Environment Protection Policy (Control of Music Noise from Public Premises) (SEPP N-2) for outdoor venue noise only. For indoor venue noise, see Entertainment venue noise.

The goal of SEPP N-2 is to protect residents from music noise while recognising the community demand for a wide range of music entertainment.

Generally speaking, no operating licence or general approval is needed from EPA for music venues. A planning permit (for the site) and an event permit (for the event) may be required from the relevant council. SEPP N-2 governs the noise emitted from music entertainment venues and this policy must be complied with at all times. EPA approval for certain events is also required, as outlined below.

Q and A on outdoor noise + Expand all Collapse all

  • What is an outdoor venue?

    For the purpose of SEPP N-2, an outdoor venue means public premises where music is played in the open air.

    A marquee used at an outdoor venue should also be considered as an outdoor venue, as the canvas will do little to reduce the sound generated within.

    Venues where the facilities allow music to be played indoors, such as a hotel with an indoor band room and an outdoor beer garden, are considered an indoor venue.

  • What are the requirements for outdoor venue noise?

    SEPP N-2 establishes a number of requirements for outdoor music venues. These requirements include;

    • noise levels must not exceed the following noise limits (see clauses 17 and 18 of SEPP N-2). The noise level is measured as LAeq in dB(A). The SEPP N-2 policy sets out the measurement method. 65 dB(A) (averaged over 15 minutes) when the measurement point is located outdoors at any residential premises and 55 dB(A) when the measurement point is located indoors (see clauses 17 and 18 of SEPP N-2)
    • operating times must be between 12.00 pm and 11.00 pm, or 12.00 pm and 10.00 pm for events longer than five hours. See below question What times can I hold an event?
  • When do I need an approval from EPA?

    There are two key circumstances in which you must seek approval from EPA when planning your event(s):

    • if you wish to operate an event outside the hours specified in SEPP N-2 (see ‘What times can I hold an event?)
    • if you wish to hold more than six concerts in a financial year (see ‘How many events can I hold?’).
  • What information will I need to provide EPA?

    You will need to make an application to EPA that describes the type of event, how it will be managed and the likely impact on the local community. We also expect you to provide a noise management plan.

    An application should be submitted to EPA as early as possible, and at least one month before the event date. Mail applications to:

    Manager, Development Assessments
    Environment Protection Authority Victoria
    GPO Box 4395
    Melbourne 3001

    Alternatively, email approvals.applications@epa.vic.gov.au

    If you have a query on outdoor event noise applications, call the Development Assessments Unit on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

  • Who should develop a noise management plan and what should it contain?

    The occupier and/or event or concert manager or promoter (with operational control) should develop the noise management plan. The plan should address:

    • the name of the company that will be in control of the event
    • the type of entertainment act
    • limitation on stage orientation
    • speaker height, arrangement and orientation
    • noise barriers that may be used
    • noise-reduction measures at source
    • noise measurement practices to be undertaken
    • complaints response procedure and phone number.
  • What times can I hold an event? Events can only be between 12.00 pm and 11.00 pm, except where the event duration is longer than 5 hours (consecutive), in which case the event can only be held between 12.00 pm and 10.00 pm (see clause 27(a) of SEPP N-2).
  • What if I want to hold an event outside these hours?

    You must contact EPA if you wish to hold an event outside these hours. You should contact us at the early stages of event planning. We may allow operations outside of the above hours (clause 27(b) of SEPP N-2) if we are satisfied that either of these is true:

    • The noise will be inaudible at residential or other sensitive areas.
    • The operation is a not-for-profit event for charitable purposes or is of ‘special social significance’.
  • What is meant by ‘special social significance’?

    ‘Special social significance’ is the most common reason that applicants seek permission to operate outside of the above hours specified in clause 27(b) of SEPP N-2.

    Should you wish to apply under the ‘special social significance’ criteria, you should outline why you consider the event to be of ‘special social significance’ and provide any relevant evidence. This may include any of the following:

    • The event and the venue is already well established and the event is well accepted by the local community.
    • The event is televised and is widely publicised by the industry sector’s media.
    • The event holds the support of the event venue’s neighbours and letters of support can be provided to EPA.
    • Demonstration of support from key organisations (such as from the relevant council, relevant community organisations or local chamber of commerce) can be provided to EPA.
  • How many events can I hold? There is no limit on the number of events that are quieter than 55dB(A). You may hold no more than six ‘concerts’ in a financial year. A concert is an event louder than 55dB(A), measured outdoors at a residence or other nearby sensitive area.
  • What if I want to hold more than six concerts in a financial year?

    If you wish to hold more than six concerts in a financial year, you must apply in writing to EPA at least 45 days before the first concert to which the application applies. You must provide to EPA the following information:

    • the days on which the extra concerts are to be held
    • a noise management plan
    • written advice from the local council.
  • What does EPA consider when reviewing applications for more than six concerts in a financial year?

    When reviewing applications for more than six concerts in a financial year, EPA considers:

    • the number of concerts in the previous financial year
    • how loud previous concerts were
    • the number of complaints received
    • the measures which are proposed to limit noise emissions
    • any other matters considered relevant by EPA.

    EPA cannot allow additional concerts if any of the following are true:

    • A concert in the previous financial year exceeded the limit (65dB(A)) by 3dB(A).
    • The noise level contained in a self-monitoring report exceeded 62dB(A) for more than four concerts in a previous financial year.
    • EPA is not satisfied that the extra concerts will meet the noise limit of 65dB(A).

Page last updated on 10 May 2017