Nuisance and pollution complaints
If you're having a problem with:
- ongoing residential noise (loud music or air conditioners)
- air pollution in residential areas (smoking chimneys, dust, water pollution)
- spray drift issues that aren't from farm or commercial sources
- wood smoke from wood heaters and open fireplaces
you can lodge a complaint to council for us to investigate under the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
Under the Environment Protection Act, it is an offence to make unreasonably loud noises from your home. At various times it’s prohibited to make certain noises on a residential property that can be heard inside a habitable room (eg lounge room or bedroom) of someone else’s home. You can visit the Environment Protection Authority Victoria website to find information about the prohibited times for different types of residential noise.
For individual noise complaints occurring after hours (eg private parties) please contact the police. Threats or abuse from neighbours should also be reported to the police.
Lodging a complaint
Before you complain about noise, speak to the person or business causing the noise as soon as the problem arises. Express your case honestly and respectfully. In many instances, the person making the noise is unaware they are causing a problem and will quickly remedy the situation.
The Dispute Settlement of Victoria website has some helpful tips on how to start the conversation with your neighbour.
If the issue persists, contact council’s Environmental Health Unit to report the problem.
Before contacting council, make sure you can answer the following questions:
- What is the issue? Be able to describe the noise in detail.
- Where did/is it coming from? It is always helpful to know where the noise is coming from.
- When did it occur and for how long? Timely reporting is critical.
When reporting the issue, you will be asked for your name and phone number so that we can follow-up with you and let you know how the incident was resolved. This information is treated confidentially.
- An environmental health officer will tell the person or organisation believed to be making the noise that a complaint has been made.
- The person making the complaint must complete diary sheets, detailing the noise, for at least two weeks, otherwise the complaint won’t proceed.
- Please note: During the two week diary period, noise during prohibited times can be reported to the police. Record these incidents in the diary sheets, noting when police were called.
- If satisfied that a nuisance exists, the environmental health officer will take action to stop it.
If you want to complain about barking dogs, please refer to the animals & pets page.
Spray drift happens when painting spray or chemical spray drift onto neighbouring properties. Even when spraying in perfect weather, with the latest technology, not all spray drift can be controlled.
If you are concerned the chemicals could be affecting crops or livestock on neighbouring properties, please contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning.
If you are worried the chemicals could be affecting the health of residents on neighbouring properties, please contact Council’s Environmental Health Unit on 5481 2200. We will investigate the matter with WorkSafe and the Environment Protection Authority.
Wood heaters and open fireplaces are very cosy on cold nights, but they contribute to outdoor air pollution and can cause problems for neighbours, especially those with respiratory illnesses.
If you have a wood heater, there are ways you can keep smoke to a minimum:
- The fire should burn brightly with a good flame at all times.
- Inspect and clean the flue at least once a year.
- Check regularly to see if smoke is being emitted.
- Refuel with small, dry logs.
- The ash should be a fine white powder. If coals are present after the fire has burned out there is a good chance your fire is smoking excessively.
The following problems can cause excessive smoke:
- burning wet, green or treated timber
- inadequate air supply (choking the heater down)
- inadequate air circulation within the heater (over-stacking).
Wood heaters should only smoke for 20-30 minutes when first lit and for 10 minutes after more wood has been added.
If you are concerned about smoke coming from a neighbour’s wood heater, approach them to discuss the issue in a honest and respectful manner. They may be unaware that their heater is smoking excessively and causing a problem. If the problem continues, contact council’s Environmental Health Unit.
The complaint process:
If you make a complaint with council about excessive wood smoke, this is how the complaint proceeds:
- An environmental health officer will contact your neighbour to tell them a complaint has been received.
- The person making the complaint must complete diary sheets for at least two weeks, detailing the smoke issues, otherwise the complaint won’t proceed.
- If satisfied that a nuisance exists, the environmental health officer will address the problem.
- In most cases, your neighbour won’t be told who made the complaint. However, in some cases the person making the complaint is identified for example if court action is taken.
If you are experiencing smoke emissions from a neighbour burning off, contact council’s Local Laws or Environmental Health Unit on 5481 2200.
Water pollution can have a devastating effect on the environment and the people who come into contact with the polluted water.
For sewerage problems, including emergency leaks and bursts, contact your local water authority. Maintenance staff will determine if the fault is in the sewer main or on private property.
If you have a complaint about septic tanks, grey water or water pollution from residential properties, contact council's Environmental Health Unit on 5481 2200.
If you have a complaint about water pollution from commercial or industrial sites or illegal dumping of wastes, contact the Environmental Protection Authority on 5434 6000.