Before taking formal steps to report a neighbourhood issue, Council recommends that you attempt to contact your neighbours to discuss the problem and reach an appropriate resolution. Common neighbourhood issues that Council deals with include noise, barking dogs, unauthorised building and development and wood fire heaters.
What is offensive noise?
Offensive noise is defined under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 as:
(a) that, by reason of its level, nature, character or quality, or at the time at which it is made, or any other circumstances:
- is harmful to (or is likely to be harmful to) a person who is outside the premises from which it is emitted, or
- interferes unreasonably with (or is likely to interfere unreasonably with) the comfort or repose of a person who is outside the premises from which it is emitted, or
(b) that is of a level, nature, character or quality prescribed by the regulations or that is made at a time, or in other circumstances, prescribed by the regulations.
Try to solve the problem by talking to the party causing the noise. You can also contact the Community Justice Centre (CJC). These are government funded independent centres that specialise in settling differences between neighbours without entering into a complicated legal process.
When will Council investigate noise related enquiries?
Council will respond to noise from:
- residential, commercial or industrial premises
- musical instruments and electrically amplified sound equipment
- power tools and equipment
- air-conditioners, cooling towers and warm water systems
- motor vehicles, except when entering or leaving residential premises
- animals, such as roosters
What type of noise nuisances / offensive noise do other agencies investigate?
NSW Police (131 444 for non-emergencies)
After hours party noise, noise created by people and not source noise
NSW Environmental Protection Authority (131 555)
Licenced premises, licensed activities, noisy vehicles on the road
Liquor & Gaming NSW (1300 024 720)
Licenced premises with regards to sale of liquor i.e pubs & clubs
NSW Roads and Maritime Services (13 12 36)
Noise made on waterways from boats
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) (13 17 57)
Noise made from aircraft
When carrying out an offensive noise assessment what will Council consider?
- How loud the noise is relative to other noise within the area.
- If the noise includes characteristics that make it irritating.
- The times the noise occurs.
- If the noise is atypical for the area.
- How often the noise occurs.
- The number of people affected by the noise.
- Whether the premises for the noise source are operating within their approval or have an approval to operate.
- Whether the noise is “unreasonable” for the area.
For more information regarding neighbourhood noise, visit the Environmental Protection Authority website.
If you are unable to resolve the matter by talking with your neighbour(s), a report can be made to Council on 02 4306 7900.
You can report a barking dog using our online customer portal.
To help avoid false reports we are unable to action anonymous barking dog complaints, so please ensure that you include your contact details.
On receipt of your initial complaint, Council will write to the dog’s owner to inform them of the barking problem.
If excessive barking continues, you may be required to keep a barking dog diary over a 14 day period.
Often an owner is unaware their dog is barking excessively. Informing them about the problem by calmly talking to them is often the best way to fix this. Alternatively, you may consider contacting the Community Justice Centre who can guide you through a mediation process with the dog’s owners.
Receiving a barking dog notice
If a complaint has been received by Council, you will be mailed a notice outlining the nature of the complaint and suggested steps to assess and address your dogs barking.
Please be aware that no further action will occur without supporting evidence and a full investigation.
For more information on why dogs bark and how to stop excessive barking download the Barking Dogs Fact Sheet.
Council and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) investigate water pollution incidents under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. Incidents of water pollution should be reported to Council on 02 4306 7900 or to the EPA on 131 555.
Dividing fences are a civil matter between neighbours. Council suggests contacting the Community Justice Centre (CJC) when neighbours are unable to agree on fencing issues. The CJC can also be contacted on 1800 990 777.
Unauthorised building and development
Unauthorised building work takes many forms and can range from very minor technical breaches, which cause little or no environmental harm, to blatant environmental law breaches for projects that would never receive development approval.
Certain types of development which may be permissible without Council approval. Home owners should seek independent planning advice to determine if development consent is required, prior to undertaking any works to their property.
Keeping of animals
Keeping animals can be fun. But they can impact on neighbours. Find out about the rules on where animals can be kept, how many can stay on a piece of land and your responsibilities as an animal carer.
Animals are an important part of any community. But if you plan to keep them on your land, there are issues of which you must be aware of, especially where these concern their care, control and responsibilities that you have as an animal manager and owners. Poor management and inappropriate care can impact on amenity of your neighbours in terms of noise, odours, property damage, health and safety.
Poultry (including chickens)
Poultry must not be kept under such conditions as to create a nuisance or to be dangerous or injurious to health.
Fowls (including chickens) must not be kept within 4.5 metres of a dwelling, public hall, school or premises used for the manufacture, preparation, sale or storage of food. Other types of poultry (such as ducks and geese) must not be kept within 30 metres of these properties.
Poultry yards must at all times be kept clean and free from offensive odours. The floors must be paved with concrete or mineral asphalt underneath the roosts or perches. If the poultry houses are not within 15.2 metres of a dwelling, public hall or school or the floor may be clean sand.
Poultry yards must be enclosed as to prevent bird escape.
The maximum number of chickens allowed and guidelines for poultry houses in line with property zoning is detailed in the Subdivision 21 (Fowl and poultry houses) in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.
Horses and cattle
Horses and cattle must not be kept within nine metres of a dwelling, school shop, office, factory, workshop, church or other place of public worship, public hall or premises used for the manufacture, preparation or storage of food.
The floors of stables must be paved with concrete or mineral asphalt or other equally impervious material, and must be properly graded to drain. Yards must be enclosed to prevent escape.
Pigs (including miniature pigs)
Swine (pigs) must not be kept (and swine’s dung must not be deposited) within 60 metres of a dwelling, shop, office, factory, church or other place of public worship, workshop, school or public place in a city, town, village or other urban part of an area.
Swine must not be kept in such a place or manner as to pollute drinking or domestic water.
Prior to constructing or installing an animal enclosure, contact one of our Duty Officers via Customer Service on 02 4306 7900.
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advises if you can see or smell smoke from your wood-fired heater, you may be causing problems for yourself, your family and your neighbours.
The impacts of woodsmoke are highest in the winter months where wood-fired heating can produce up to seven times more pollution than cars. There are a number of things you can do to improve this, increase your heater’s efficiency and help us all breathe more easily.
For further information, please contact our Environmental Health Officers on 02 4306 7900.
Air pollution is caused when an impurity such as smoke, dust, gas or odour is emitted into the air. Air pollution can have a negative effect on both humans and the environment. Sources of air pollution can include smoke from wood fire heaters, dust from construction sites or odours from spray painting. Visit the NSW Environment Protection Authority for detailed information regarding residential and industrial air emission requirements or report a concern regarding air quality to Council.
Burning of domestic or green waste in backyards is prohibited except with written approval from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) or a hazard reduction certificate issued by the NSW Rural Fire Service. It is acceptable to cook or barbecue in the open, or to light, maintain or use a fire for recreational purposes such as camping, picnicking, scouting or other similar activities, so long as only dry seasoned wood, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas or proprietary barbecue fuel is used. Whenever a total fire ban is in place, no burning at all is permitted.
If you believe that an odour in your environment is harmful or unreasonably interfering with your day to day activities, you may report it to Council to investigate. When investigating an odour complaint Council considers factors including the source, the amount of odour, the duration and rate of emission, the sensitivity of the surrounding environment and the impact.
During spring and summer excessive rainfall, combined with warm temperatures, can encourage rapid growth of vegetation across the region, leading to a rise in the number of enquiries Council receives regarding overgrown land and neighbourly disputes. As a first step, we encourage residents to have a simple conversation with the owner or manager of the property that is overgrown. Often people are unaware that their property maintenance is causing a problem and are usually happy to address the problem after being notified.
Unfortunately, in most cases, Council has no direct authority over how residents manage private property and are unable to act on complaints over property appearance. If evidence can be provided that proves the condition of a property is unsafe or unhealthy, contact Council on 02 4306 7900.
Council Officers will investigate to determine if regulatory action can be taken. Council cannot take any action where overgrown vegetation includes native vegetation that is protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 or the Local Land Services Act 2013.