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 COVID 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 on 30 July 2021 allows construction work to occur on weekdays, from 7am to 5pm and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays during the same times.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website states;

"The new Order follows the recent pause on construction activity, which was necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Order will ensure the continued safe delivery of new homes, transport, job-generating projects and community facilities. This is necessary to help the industry get back on its feet and support the economy."

"The Order seeks to find the right balance between protecting the public health needs of the general community and providing continued support to the building and construction industry, to ensure they can continue operate during the pandemic in accordance with public health requirements and the necessary social distancing and hygiene practices. The Order allows work to be staggered across the week in a way that minimises the risk of workers being affected by COVID-19."

Importantly, in relation to work or activities on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday or public holiday the 'Construction Work Days Order' states the

    "(d)    not involve the carrying out of rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving or similar activities during the hours of work or operation that would not be permitted but for this Order, and 

    (e)     take all feasible and reasonable measures to minimise noise."

At this time the Order remains in force until 24 December 2021.

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.