Posted on September 9, 2021 by Stuart Simington and Lachlan Penninkilampi

ALERT: Consultation deadline approaching for the EPA’s updated Noise Guide for Local Government

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) recently released for public consultation an updated Noise Guide for Local Government in draft form  (Updated Guide).

The Updated Guide is intended to replace the current Noise Guide for Local Government (Current Guide), which has been critical to the everyday management of neighbourhood noise issues by council officers.

The deadline for feedback about the Updated Guide is 5:00pm on Monday, 27 September 2021.

The EPA is seeking feedback to ensure that the Updated Guide:

  • makes it easier to navigate options for managing noise‘;
  • provides enough supporting information for councils‘;
  • adequately clarifies the NSW legislative noise control framework‘; and
  • helps the community understand who is responsible for managing noise‘.

We give you a brief overview of the key changes in the Updated Guide to help inform your feedback.

Key changes in the Updated Guide

A significant change in the Updated Guide is a new three-part structure to improve navigability.

  1. Part 1: Key considerations for managing noise and the options available to council officers, covering Sections 1 and 2 (which make up approximately half of the Updated Guide);
  2. Part 2: The legal framework for noise control in NSW, covering Sections 3 to 5; and
  3. Part 3: Technical and supporting information, covering Sections 6 to 9.

Part 1 is intended to be the primary reference point.

Parts 2 and 3 are intended to supplement Part 1 and be used only if Part 1 is insufficient for the user’s purposes.

Other key changes in the Updated Guide include:

  • updated fact sheets and summaries of the appropriate regulatory authorities for a  different kinds of noise;
  • updated case studies and examples about common neighbourhood noises scenarios covered by the Updated Guide; and
  • a new approach to technical and supporting information, which is said to be consolidated and simplified.

One of the most important change is the extent of the referencing to the relevant legislative provisions. In particular, the Updated Guide includes discussion of the Protection of the Environment (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 (POEO Noise Control Regulation), an important regulation for council officers because of its specific controls for common neighbourhood noise sources. These references appear to us to significantly increase the usability, usefulness, and reliability of the guide for council officers.

As always, the Updated Guide emphasises that it is a non-statutory document only and not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice on a case-by-case basis.

Next steps

The EPA will take three steps after public consultation:

  1. review feedback about the Updated Guide;
  2. release a report about the consultation outcomes to the public; and
  3. finalise and release the Updated Guide.

The consultation draft of the Updated Guide can be viewed here. Feedback about the Updated Guide can be given at the EPA’s website here.

To discuss this blog, please leave a comment below or contact Stuart Simington on 02 8235 9704 or Lachlan Penninkilampi on 02 8235 9719.