Noise complaints during COVID-19

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Important update

Please check the current COVID-19 rules and restrictions at the NSW Government website

We’ve received a growing number of noise complaints from residents as people spend more time at home as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and they are finding the noise in their neighbourhood disturbing.

Unfortunately much of this noise is permitted to occur, such as construction noise and use of power tools, during the current COVID-19 restrictions. Here is an overview of what noise is allowed to occur under current legislation.

Construction noise

The current lockdown restrictions have not limited construction and building work. In fact, the days that such work can be carried out have been increased to allow for social distancing on construction sites.

The Construction Work Days Order signed by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces in June 2021 allows construction work to occur during weekdays, from 7am to 5pm on Saturday and limited work from 9am to 5pm on Sunday.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website states the following with regard to the Order;

While the Order permits additional construction work to take place on the weekends, it requires that all feasible and reasonable measures to minimise noise are taken. In addition, only certain low noise intensive works will be permitted on Sundays, these are works that predominantly occur indoors such as tiling, painting and safety checks.

Construction work is not permitted on public holidays under the Order.”

Importantly, in relation to work or activities on a Sunday, the ‘Construction Work Days Order’ states the following:

  1. not involve the use of the following;
    1. pneumatic or gas-powered fastening tools or equipment (including nail guns),
    2. explosive powered tools and equipment,
    3. petrol- or diesel-powered tools and equipment, and
    4. electric power tools and equipment,
  2. the person carrying out the work or activity must not play music on any device or equipment or use a radio.

Noise from leaf blowers and power tools

We have also received complaints about other noise generating activities in residential areas including the use of leaf blowers and power tools.

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 power tools and equipment can be used on a residential premises between the following times:

  • Between 8am and 8pm on any Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, or
  • Between 7am and 8pm on any other day.

What can you do about bothersome noise?

If you are having problems with noise in your neighbourhood, you can make contact with the builder concerned, or the neighbour using noisy equipment, to see if a compromise and/or work around is possible until the current lockdown is lifted.

If you live in an apartment and are experiencing noise issues from work occurring within your own apartment block, it may be worthwhile speaking with your Body Corporate or Strata Executive, because your strata may have by-laws controlling such activities which could be applied during the current lockdown.

If the work being undertaken complies with the above provisions then there is little short-term action available to Council.