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Noise Pollution

Excessive or continuous noise can come from many sources, including air conditioning units, amplified devices, building and construction, machinery and power tools, boats, pumps and refrigeration equipment. Sometimes this noise can disturb neighbours, disrupt their sleep and interfere with daily activities. If loud and frequent enough, it can also impact on people’s health or work environment.

Allowable noise level guidelines

While the noise may seem excessive or too loud to some, there are allowable noise limits in place. The following information outlines allowed decibel levels for different kinds of equipment and activities and the times that they can be used:

Equipment or ActivityDescriptionAllowable Noise Limits
Air Conditioning Unit EquipmentNoise from air-conditioning equipment.

Any day
7.00 am – 10.00 pm: No noise louder than five decibels above the background noise level.

10.00 pm – 7.00 am: No noise louder than three decibels above the background noise level.

Amplified Devices –other than at an open air event or indoor venue (Council Enforcement)Includes loud-hailers, megaphones, public address systems etc.

Business day
7.00 am – 10.00 pm: No noise louder than ten decibels above the background noise level.

10.00 pm – 7.00 am: No audible noise.

Any other day
8.00 am – 6.00 pm: No noise louder than ten decibels above the background noise level.

6.00 pm – 8.00 am: No audible noise.

Amplified Devices (Non-Council Enforcement)Includes musical noise (e.g. stereo, instruments), parties or rowdy behaviour.Contact: Queensland Police Service or  
phone 131 444.
Building and ConstructionIncludes building work related to the construction of new buildings by a registered builder, works being undertaken by an owner builder or work being undertaken by professional trades persons at an established dwelling.  
Typically includes activities such as concrete pouring, drilling, cutting etc.
Does not include general noise generated by builders just being on a site eg, noise from unloading equipment, having music playing at work sites etc.

Monday to Saturday
6.30 am – 6.30 pm: Noise permitted.

6.30 pm – 6.30 am: No audible noise permitted.

Sundays and Public Holidays
No audible noise permitted.

Machinery and Power Tools (Regulated Devices)Includes compressors and generators, ducted vacuuming systems, grass cutters (such as tractors, lawn mowers and edge cutters), impacting tools (such as hammers and nail guns), leaf blowers and mulchers, oxyacetylene burners and electrical, mechanical or pneumatic power tools (such as chainsaws, drills and sanders).

Monday to Saturday
7.00 am – 7.00 pm: Regulated devices can be used.

7.00 pm – 7.00 am: No audible noise permitted.

Sundays and Public Holidays
8.00 am – 7.00 pm: Regulated devices can be used.

7.00 pm – 8.00 am: No audible noise permitted.

Motor Vehicles (incl. motorbikes, quad-bikes, cars, go-karts)Noise/nuisance caused by motor vehicles (including noise, dust or other air pollution from hooning, revving etc).Contact: Queensland Police Service or  
phone 131 444.
Operating power boat engine at a premisesOwners or repairers of power boat engines may run them for testing or maintenance, such as flushing the engine.

Monday to Saturday
7.00 am – 7.00 pm: Noise permitted.

7.00 pm – 7.00 am: No audible noise permitted.

Sundays and Public Holidays
8.00 am – 6.30 pm: Noise permitted.

6.30 pm – 8.00 am: No audible noise permitted.

Pumps (includes swimming pool pumps & spa blowers)Includes an electrical, mechanical or pneumatic pump (liquid pump, air pump or heat pump).

Any day
7.00 am – 7.00 pm: No noise louder than five decibels above the background noise level.

7.00 pm to 10.00 pm: No noise louder than three decibels above the background noise level.

10.00 pm to 7.00 am: No audible noise permitted.

Refrigeration EquipmentIncludes refrigeration equipment on properties such as cold rooms and truck-mounted units.

Any day
7.00 am – 10.00 pm: No noise louder than five decibels above the background noise level.

10.00 pm – 7.00 am: No noise louder than three decibels above the background noise level.

How do I manage excessive or continuous noise coming from my property?

If an excessive or continuous noise complaint is made against you, it is important that you take any necessary steps to reduce noise to acceptable levels. If you fail to do so, financial penalties may apply.

The below handy tips are relevant for most equipment or activities that can cause excessive or continuous noise. For more specific tips, see the applicable heading below.

  • If you are going to be doing an activity that may result in prolonged noise, speak to your neighbours and let them know in advance.
  • Find out when your neighbours are most disturbed by noise and limit operation during these times if possible.
  • Where possible equipment and activities should not be run near neighbouring bedroom windows or offices.
  • Regular maintenance of equipment can decrease noise levels and improve effectiveness.
  • Install a solid fence or barrier (no gaps) between you and your neighbour to reduce the noise level.
  • Consider enclosing the equipment in a ventilated wood box with an absorbent lining, if applicable. Contact the equipment manufacturer or installer for advice.
  • Modification of some equipment may reduce noise. Contact the manufacturer or installer for advice.
  • Ensure noise is only being generated within the allowable hours as outlined in the table above.

Air conditioning unit

  • Replace the air-conditioner with a quieter model.

Amplified devices

  • Alternatives may be available that are quieter or do not disturb neighbours. For example, telephone repeater bells can be replaced with visual alarms to alert the receiver of a call.

Building and Construction

  • When buying equipment, consider a quieter option. Manufacturers often label equipment with the noise level or can provide this information. Alternatives such as electrical equipment may be quieter than petrol models.

Machinery and Power Tools

  • When buying equipment, consider if a quieter option is available. Manufacturers often label equipment with the noise level or can provide this information. Alternatives such as electrical equipment may be quieter than petrol models.

Operating power boat engine at a premises

  • An enclosed garage or shed may be a more suitable alternative than outside, depending on its location.
  • If extensive running of a motor is required, consider an alternative location.

Pumps

  • If it’s a swimming pool pump, know how long the pool filter needs to run for and set a timer to run at times that don’t disturb your neighbour. Talk to your local pool shop or pool pump manufacturer for information on the optimal running of the pump.
  • Older pumps can be noisy and an undersized pump may need to run longer to maintain water quality. Replacing the pump with a quieter or appropriately sized model may reduce noise levels.

Refrigeration Equipment

  • The noise level of refrigeration equipment can vary significantly depending on the type and size of the unit. Units operating on electricity or with an electric option are quieter then engine driven units.
  • For truck mounted units, consider parking at a depot or away from residential areas.

How can I make a complaint about excessive or continuous noise?

Discuss with your neighbour

People are sometimes unaware that their equipment or activities are causing a nuisance. Ipswich City Council encourages all residents and business operators to talk to their neighbours first about nuisance problems and only make a complaint if the issue remains unresolved.

Before you proceed with lodging a complaint, please refer to the below questions to see if Council is the appropriate contact for your issue.

  1. Does the noise relate to music, loud stereos, parties and rowdy behaviour or burglar alarms?
    If you answered yes, contact Queensland Police or phone 13 14 44.
  2. Does the noise relate to off road vehicles or trail bikes?
    If you answered yes, contact Queensland Police or phone 13 14 44.
  3. Does the noise relate to on-road vehicles or trail bikes?
    If you answered yes, please contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads or phone 13 23 80.
  4. Does the noise relate to native animals or birds (e.g crows)?
    If you answered yes, please contact the Department of Science and Environment or phone 13 74 68.
  5. Does the noise relate to pubs, clubs or any liquor licenced premises?
    If you answered yes, please contact the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulations or phone 13 74 68.

If you answered no to all of the questions listed above, please follow the below steps to lodge your complaint with Council. Have the following information ready:

  • details of the source and nature of the issue
  • where the issue is coming from and how is it affecting you
  • specific information on how often the issue is happening e.g. what time and on what day

Contact Council by one of the methods below:

How does Council manage an excessive or continuous noise pollution complaint?

  1. Council sends out a letter and fact sheet to the address of the alleged offender advising them of the issue.
  2. If Council is then advised that the issue has continued we will investigate further.
  3. Council will initially attend the property causing the issue and determine if noise pollution is detectable or the cause is evident. As part of this inspection, the following can occur:
  • If no noise pollution is detected, Council Officers will contact the person who has made the report and see if further information is available or advise of outcome.
  • If a breach is identified, Council will speak to the residents causing the issue to attempt to resolve it.  If necessary, Council may issue Compliance Notice.
  • If a Compliance Notice is issued, a follow up process is put in place and will be undertaken to determine if the breach is ongoing after the expiration of the notice.
  • If the breach is found to be continued then further action, including the issuing of infringement notices, can occur.

Resources

Printable Noise Pollution Fact Sheet