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Construction Noise - NSW Noise Restrictions


23 May 2022

NSW: What Can I Do About Construction Noise!

 

What can you do about noise? It depends if the noise is residential or from a construction site as there are different restrictions that apply. In this post, I will deal with noise emanating from construction sites starting with the situation normally and the situation now that Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Construction Work Days) Order 2020 is in effect until the 31 March 2022.
 

Pre-COVID Order – i.e. before 2 April 2020


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Construction noise can be significant both in sound and in duration across the course of a normal working day. Normally, this type of noise would not affect as many people as they would be at their places of work or school during the time most construction sites are active.

Your local council, the Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA) and if needed the police are the key enforcers in respect of construction noise.

Most development work will be regulated by your local council so the first step should be to look at the development consent conditions imposed on the construction site by your council.

The development consent from council will regulate the hours of work and when certain types of work can be conducted. This may not assist much, however, there is a big difference between a requirement for tools down until 8 am versus tools down until 7 am. In most cases, the development consent can be obtained from a search on your local council’s website, or, failing that, you could contact its planning team.

If work is starting before permitted hours or continuing after hours or you believe the noise is excessive then a complaint should be made to your council in writing specifying times, dates and the nature of the complaint. If this does not resolve your issue I suggest you seek legal advice regarding potential further steps as you may also have a case against the noise maker and the owner of the site in nuisance.

If the construction noise is coming from work undertaken by a public authority then the EPA is generally the appropriate body to make a complaint to.

The EPA’s Interim Construction Noise Guideline contains general guidelines for work start times. They are not mandatory but are a helpful guide and are used by councils in determining development consent conditions.

The guidelines include (but are not limited to):
 
Construction noise source / Work Type Time restriction guidelines
Normal construction noise Sundays & Public Holidays: no work permitted
Saturday: not before 8 am or after 1 pm
Any other day: not before 9 am or after 5 pm
Blasting Sundays & Public Holidays: no work permitted
Saturday: not before 8 am or after 1 pm
Any other day: not before 9 am or after 5 pm

The link to the guideline can be found here: Interim construction noise guideline

If the construction noise is coming from within a lot in your scheme, you should also consider your scheme’s by-laws or management statement. Generally, they will have by-laws regulating noise and any works by-laws or consents will generally also have terms in relation to noise during the construction work. These restrictions can be enforced at a scheme level and by the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
 

After COVID-19 Order – 2 April 2020 until 31 March 2022

 

Please NOTE: The temporary changes allowed the Minister for Planning to make an Order for development to be carried out without normal planning approval to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out more, head over to the COVID-19 response and recovery page on the NSW Government site.

In response to COVID-19 and concerns about keeping construction going, the NSW Government passed the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Construction Work Days) Order 2020 which is from 2 April 2020 in effect. This means that if a site has a development consent then the days upon which construction on that site can be undertaken has been increased – all that the builders need to do to be able to work on a Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday is to:

a.      comply with the conditions of consent that restrict the hours of work on any other day (i.e. Monday to Friday); and
b.      not conduct rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving or similar activities during the hours that it would not be permitted under the normal conditions of consent; and
c.      take all feasible and reasonable measures to reduce noise.
There are some conditions that require social distancing measures and for the construction to comply with all other development conditions however it appears that for those living near construction sites, noise may be an issue for the foreseeable future, with little recourse to remedies.


Allison Benson
Kerin Benson Lawyers



This is general information and should not be considered to be legal advice. If you are affected you should obtain legal advice specific to your individual situation.