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.

Unreasonable noise

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: 

Aggravated noise

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.

Read next

Summary of noise Regulations

Summary of the noise framework

Residential noise and the law

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

Transport noise and the law

Reviewed 10 October 2022