Under the general environmental duty (GED), you must understand the risks from your businesses activities and how to address them so far as reasonably practicable.

The Act says it’s an offence to make unreasonable noise or aggravated noise.

Noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises is unreasonable if it exceeds the noise limits.

Aggravated noise is a serious offence and significant penalties apply. Noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises is aggravated noise if it exceeds the noise limit by a certain amount.

Noise limits apply to commercial, industrial and trade premises of all sizes.

Noise limits for your business depend on the:

  • location of noise sensitive areas
  • land use zoning – the mix of businesses and residences in the area
  • existing background noise
  • noise from other businesses nearby
  • time of day the noise occurs.

Operating times and noise limits for commercial, industrial and trade

The Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) outline the operating times for commercial, industrial and trade premises.

Operating time periods are:

  • day period - Monday to Saturday (except public holidays), from 7 am to 6 pm
  • evening period -
    • Monday to Saturday, from 6 pm to 10 pm
    • Sunday and public holidays, from 7 am to 10 pm
  • night period - 10 pm to 7 am the following day.

Different noise limits apply to each operating period and are depending on the method used in the Noise limit and assessment protocol for the control of noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues (publication 1826).

For the night period, the Regulations state that the noise limit for commercial, industrial and trade premises for the night period must not exceed 55dB(A) or it will be unreasonable noise.

Understanding which noise limits apply

The Noise limit and assessment protocol for the control of noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues (publication 1826) (Noise Protocol) sets methods for determining noise limits.

There are two methods for setting noise limits for commercial, industrial and trade noise depending on the location of the noise sensitive area where the noise is assessed:

  • major urban areas – large regional towns, cities and the outskirts of Melbourne, or
  • rural areas.

In major urban areas, the noise limits are based on the land use zoning around the noise sensitive area and the measured background sounds without noise from industry. Each land use planning zone is given a designated type (1, 2, or 3) used to calculate noise limits.

The Noise Protocol Annex A Tables A.1, A.2 and A.4 list designated types in major urban areas. You can download a full list of designated types, including types for newly created planning zones.

In rural areas, the Noise Protocol provides different methods for setting noise limits for:

  • utilities, including telecommunications, battery storage, gas, oil, water and sewerage infrastructure
  • earth resources premises.

The noise limits don’t apply to noise from roads and railways, noise from residential properties or noise from wind turbines at wind energy facilities.

Assessing compliance with noise limits

Noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises is assessed using Part I.B of the Noise Protocol.

The Noise Protocol method measures the noise coming from commercial, industrial or trade premises in decibels. When noise has a character people find disturbing, such as bangs, you may make an adjustment to the measured level.

The Noise Protocol method involves taking the measurement from any nearby noise sensitive areas where the noise limit applies. A noise sensitive area includes residences and other places where people live and sleep, such as hotels and tourist facilities. It also includes kindergartens, schools and child care centres. In rural areas, campgrounds and caravan parks are also noise sensitive areas.

You can arrange for a qualified acoustic engineer or consultant to measure noise from your business. The Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants or the Australian Acoustical Society can help you find the most appropriate person.

Find out how to assess noise in the guideline Technical guide: Measuring and analysing industry noise and music noise (publication 1997).

About boundaries for major urban areas

The boundaries of major urban areas are based on:

  • An urban growth boundary for a town or city with more than 7000 people, including Melbourne’s urban growth boundary, or
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics urban centre boundary for a town or city with more than 7000 people.

Find out about the boundaries of major urban areas in Victoria.

Read more about commercial, industrial and trade noise

Commercial, industrial and trade noise

Commercial, industrial and trade noise: EPA’s role

Commercial, industrial and trade noise: the law

Report commercial or industrial noise

Noise advice for businesses

Reviewed 24 November 2021