1.1. Unreasonable noise in the Environment Protection Regulations

Under  section 166 of the Act a person must not emit unreasonable noise or permit unreasonable noise to be emitted. This does not apply to noise emitted from residential premises, which is covered by section 167 of the Act. The Act sets out factors that may establish when noise will be unreasonable noise (see (a)(i)-(v) in the definition of ‘unreasonable noise’ in section 3 of the Act).  

The  Regulations also set out what is unreasonable noise from outdoor entertainment venues and events.  Under regulation 130 music noise emitted from an outdoor entertainment venue or event is unreasonable if:

  • the effective noise level of the music noise exceeds:
    •  the noise limit that applies to that venue or event at the time the noise is emitted, or
    •  the alternative assessment criterion that applies at the time the noise is emitted if the assessment of an effective noise level is conducted at an alternative assessment location as specified in the Noise Protocol
  • in the case of an outdoor entertainment venue, the music noise is audible within a noise sensitive area outside hours set out in any permit issued by EPA, or if there is no permit outside the ‘standard operating hours’ set out in regulation 128(2), or
  • in the case of an outdoor entertainment event, the music noise is audible within a noise sensitive area outside the hours set out in a permit issued by EPA, or if there is no permit outside the standard operating hours set out in regulation 129(2), or
  • the music noise from a concert is emitted without a permit issued by EPA that is required for the venue or event.

The  environment protection framework includes provision for a range of notices to be issued by EPA in particular situations such as when noise is determined to be unreasonable noise. For example, EPA has the power to issue a notice that can require a person to take action in relation to the noise by stopping or changing the activity causing the noise.

1.2. EPA’s role in regulating music noise 

EPA  regulates music noise from entertainment venues, and outdoor entertainment events.  

An EPA permit is required for:

  • an activity under item 76 (L05-Operation outside of hours or extended operations) in Schedule 1 of the Regulations (L05 permit)
  • an activity under item 77 (L06-Conducting more than 6 outdoor concerts) in Schedule 1 of the Regulations (L06 permit).

EPA will consider permit applications made in the circumstances described in Part 3 below.
A permit will generally be issued subject to conditions that the duty holder must comply with.

The EPA Noise limit and assessment protocol for the control of noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues (Noise Protocol, publication 1826)  and associated Technical guide: Measuring and analysing industry noise and music noise (Technical Guide, publication 1997) also assist with the measurement and assessment of music noise. 

1.3. Roles of councils or other land managers 

The Regulations are not the only statutory tool that needs to be considered when conducting an outdoor entertainment venue or event.

Local councils may issue planning permits for the land uses in relation to these venues and events which may include specific conditions about the emission and management of noise. Local council may also issue a Places of Public Entertainment (POPE) permit for sites that may be regularly used for events. 

EPA recommends that you contact the relevant local council to seek advice in relation to their bylaws.

Public land managers, such as Parks Victoria may issue permits for any activity such as a festival or concert on their managed land.  You can visit Parks and reserves application guidelines for more information.

Reviewed 1 March 2023