What the results tell us for Queanbeyan
The major noise issue for Queanbeyan Council and residents concerned aircraft noise and the proposal to develop an area of land for housing in Tralee. The major source of noise complaints to Queanbeyan City Council during the reporting period was barking dogs. Other complaints included construction noise and noisy neighbours (see Table 1). A total of 342 complaints received by council were referred to the police. The total number of complaints received by the NSW Police was not provided.
Aircraft noise is a concern
During the reporting period a public debate arose between the Canberra Airport Group, the Queanbeyan City Council and a developer who intends to build a 2000-home housing estate at Tralee, adjacent to the suburbs of Hume in the ACT and Jerrabomberra in NSW. For this cross border issue, the major discussion is reported in the ACT Noise indicator result.
Airservices Australia monitors aircraft noise from a number of positions in and around Queanbeyan. There is a fixed noise monitoring terminal at Jerrabomberra, and other mobile terminals are placed at temporary locations if requested by the Airport Consultative Committee. During the reporting period, a mobile terminal was placed in Queanbeyan. Reports from both of these terminals showed that noise exceeded the N70 (average daily number of correlated noise events equal to or greater than 70 decibels) on a number of occasions during monitoring.
Noise complaints to Queanbeyan City Council
Of the complaints dealt with by Council during the reporting period, barking dogs made up the vast majority. Thirty-five notices were issued between 2000 and 2004, the majority again for barking dogs.
Anecdotally, the number of noise complaints from air conditioning units rose rapidly as residents installed ducted split systems or other types of units in locations close to neighbouring properties. Residents complained that their sleep was disturbed or enjoyment of their property was affected.
All complaints received by Council were investigated and dealt with according to the individual situation. Sometimes action was as simple as sending a letter to the offending household, but at other times Council intervened and issued notices. In some instances the affected person was advised to seek action through the Local Court. In other situations a Prevention Notice was issued which directed actions to be taken to prevent the noise. In the case of air conditioners, the manufacturers do not recommend enclosing the unit so the only solution is to relocate the unit.
Trends and abatement measures
The data provided by Council does not suggest any rise in noise complaints. Council noted however that many complaints were beyond their jurisdictional powers and as such were not registered. It was felt that noise in the environment was increasing, exacerbated by large houses on smaller blocks, increased urban development, and aircraft and traffic noise. Although the figures do not show any appreciable rise in noise complaints it is possible that people felt powerless to effect change in their local environment.
Dealing with noise issues is a process that can take a lot of Council time. After a complaint is made noise levels may have to be monitored to ascertain that there is a problem. This is either by the complainant engaging an acoustic consultant, or council staff attending with a noise meter to ascertain whether the noise level is exceeding acceptable levels. If this is shown to be the case, negotiations are undertaken, and as a last resort a notice is issued. During the reporting period, council staff attended at least five premises with noise sampling equipment. One site was required to engage a consultant to undertake monitoring. Council also undertook a study on traffic noise, the results of which were still being analysed at the time of writing.
State Government noise regulations give guidance to residents on restricted hours (see Table 2), but if excessive noise is occurring at other times, Council will recommend that a Noise Abatement Order be sought through the NSW Local Court at Queanbeyan.
|Type of complaint||2000–01||2001–02||2002–03||2003–04|
|Referred to police||12||106||144||80|
Source: Queanbeyan City Council
|Noise source on residential premises||Time restrictions||Contact|
|Power tools and equipment (powered garden tools, e.g. lawn mowers and leaf blowers; electric or pneumatic tools; chainsaws or circular saws; gas or air compressors; swimming pool or spa pumps)||8 pm to 7 am on weekdays and Saturdays; 8 pm to 8 am on Sundays and public holidays||Local council or Police|
|Musical instruments and sound equipment (radios, TVs, tape recorders, record or compact disc players, public address systems, computer games)||12 midnight to 8 am everyday||Local council or Police|
|Air conditioners||10 pm to 7 am on weekdays; 10 pm to 8 am on weekends and public holidays||Local council|
|Motor vehicles (except when entering or leaving residential premises)||8 pm to 7 am on weekdays; 8 pm to 8 am on weekends and public holidays||Local council or Police|
|Refrigeration units fitted to motor vehicles||8 pm to 7 am on weekdays; 8 pm to 8 am on weekends and public holidays||Local council or Police|
Source: based on Department of Environment and Conservation (2004)
Outside of these hours, restrictions can be placed on using these articles if they cause offensive levels of noise. Restrictions can be placed by issuing prevention notices, noise control notices or noise abatement directions under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
About the data
Data were provided by Queanbeyan City Council.
Airservices Australia (2004) Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System, Canberra Quarterly Reports, accessed via website on 17 January 2004, http://www.airservices.gov.au/reports/nfpms/nfpmscanberra.asp.
Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004) Dealing with Neighbourhood Noise, DEC 2004/01, June 2004.