About noise legislation
Under the Environment Protection Act 2017, the following 3 areas are central to noise legislation.
General environmental duty
The general environmental duty requires you to reduce the risk of harm to human health and the environment from your pollution and waste.
Noise comes under the category of pollution, and it includes vibration. As far as reasonably practicable, if your activity involves noise it’s your duty to reduce the levels of risk.
You must not emit unreasonable noise from any place or premises. Determining if noise is unreasonable involves considering:
- volume – how far the noise spreads
- intensity – how loud or how many decibels the noise is
- duration – how long the noise lasts
- character – what the noise sounds like
- time, place and other circumstances in which the noise is emitted
- how often the noise is emitted
- any prescribed factors, including low frequency noise from industry.
Specific requirements apply to noise from:
It’s an offence to emit aggravated noise. For commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues, aggravated noise is a noise emission that far exceeds the noise limits used for unreasonable noise.
About noise under the Regulations
The Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) set out what is unreasonable and aggravated noise from:
The Regulations also outline standards and test methods for motor vehicle air and noise emissions.
EPA’s ‘Applying the noise framework’ guidance series
EPA has published a comprehensive guidance series for business and community. The series explores how the environment protection framework (laws and regulations) apply to noise. The series covers:
- how different sources of noise are regulated under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (for example, music noise vs industrial noise)
- how noise can be assessed (using qualitative ‘common sense’ assessment and quantitative technical measurements)
- how the different environment protection laws interact (the general environmental duty versus the duty not to emit unreasonable noise)
- examples of how you can comply with these laws and regulations
The series does not cover how residential noise is regulated under the Environment Protection Act 2017. For information visit, Residential noise.
The guidance series is in 4 parts:
Unreasonable noise guidelines
These guidelines explain the concept of unreasonable noise, including pathways for determining if noise is unreasonable, and how they work with the general environmental duty. It also includes case study examples of compliance, enforcement and resolution of noise pollution events. For information visit, Unreasonable noise guidelines.
Commerce, industry, and trade noise guidelines
These guidelines give a comprehensive explanation of how the Environment Protection Act 2017 (section 25, section 166 and section 168) and the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (Part 5.3, Division 3) apply to noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises. For information visit, Commerce, industry and trade noise guidelines.
Entertainment venues and outdoor entertainment events music noise guidelines
These guidelines give a comprehensive explanation of how the Environment Protection Act 2017 (section 25, section 166 and section 168) and the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (Part 5.3, Division 4) apply to noise from entertainment venues and outdoor entertainment events. For information visit, Entertainment venue and outdoor event music noise guidelines.
Permit guidelines for outdoor entertainment venues and events
These guidelines explain the permitting requirements for individuals and businesses who are planning musical entertainment at an outdoor entertainment venue or event. For information visit, Permit guidelines for outdoor entertainment venues and events.
Summary of the noise framework
Commercial, industrial and trade noise and the law
Music noise from venues and events: the law
Wind energy facility and the law
Construction noise and the law
Reviewed 8 May 2023