Noise, light and odour issues

Any environmental nuisance issues, such as noise, dust, light and odour, are covered by environmental authority conditions.

Environmental authority conditions require companies to not cause environmental nuisance from noise at a sensitive receptor (a place where noise is measured to investigate whether impacts are occurring) or from dust, odour, light or smoke at a sensitive place (including for example a dwelling, library, childcare centre, medical centre, or a public park).

The conditions also allow for alternative arrangements to be in place between the holder of the environmental authority and the person affected, or likely to be affected by the activity. An alternative arrangement is a written agreement about the way in which a particular nuisance impact will be dealt with at either a sensitive place or sensitive receptor, and may include an agreed period of time for which the arrangement is in place. An alternative arrangement may include, but is not limited to, a range of nuisance abatement measures to be installed at the sensitive place or sensitive receptor, or provision of alternative accommodation for the duration of the relevant nuisance impact.

Written contingency procedures must be developed prior to commencing activities which address the risks of not complying with the environmental nuisance conditions. Contingency procedures must include environmental nuisance and complaint management procedures, comprising a description of the activities that might result in non-compliance with the conditions and what mitigation measures are required to be implemented.

Noise

An application for an environmental authority must identify the acoustic values of the area where the proposed activities are to be carried out. Acoustic values include:

  • health and biodiversity of ecosystems
  • human health and wellbeing, including ensuring a suitable acoustic environment for individuals to sleep, study or learn, and be involved in recreation, including relaxation and conversation
  • the amenity of the community.

Applicants must include an assessment of the likely impact of the activities on these acoustic values, including details of the management practices proposed to be implemented to prevent or minimise adverse impacts. This information allows the department to develop relevant conditions for the protection of the acoustic environment.

Noise management plans can also be required to address how activities will be carried out, according to best practice noise management principles. Best-practice noise management principles include:

  • noise impact assessments and emission calculations
  • stakeholder engagement
  • adoption of noise attenuating technologies for plant and equipment
  • minimising background creep
  • containing and minimising variable noise
  • avoiding sleep disturbance.

Environmental authorities can also contain noise criteria and other relevant requirements to ensure the protection of the acoustic environment at sensitive receptors. Operators are legally obligated to comply with the requirements of the environmental authority.

Read more about Prescribing Noise Conditions on Environmental Authorities (PDF, 583.1KB) .

Air contaminants (dust, light and odour)

Applicants must identify environmental values that are relevant to air quality. These may include protecting:

  • the health and biodiversity of ecosystems
  • human health and wellbeing
  • the aesthetics of the environment, including the appearance of buildings, structures and other property
  • agricultural use of the environment.

The description of the environmental values of the air shed must be accompanied by details of the specific air quality objectives to be maintained in that air shed for the life of the activity. Companies are required to provide background air quality monitoring data and in certain instances, undertake air quality modelling to demonstrate that the air quality objectives are being maintained.

Operators must ensure that the release of dust, light, odour or any other airborne contaminants resulting from the activities do not cause an environmental nuisance to any sensitive receptor. Environmental authorities also include a suite of monitoring requirements for point source contaminant releases to air in order to demonstrate that companies are complying with their requirements.