For the longest time, there were really only two ways to give your noisy neighbours a nudge:

  1. negotiate nicely; or
  1. sue them for nuisance.

Now though, noise polluters could also be held in breach of the general environmental duty (GED).

This duty applies to all Victorians under the Environmental Protections Act 2017 (Vic) (new EP Act) and presents a third option for handling noise pollution which is affecting the quiet enjoyment of your property.


What is the GED and why should I care?

Section 25 of the EP Act states:

A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practical.”

This simple sentence is the new cornerstone of environmental law in Victoria and has broad ramifications for every person, natural or corporate.

Not only is it an offence to breach the GED in the course of an undertaking, but it can also the basis for civil claim against the offender.

For our purposes, the new EP Act includes noise as a type of pollution. Section 3 of the new EP Act defines noise as ‘unreasonable’ depending on:

  • its volume, intensity and duration;
  • its character;
  • the time, place and circumstances in which it is emitted;
  • how often it is emitted; and
  • certain prescribed factors under the new EP Act.


I can’t bear the noise! How does the GED help me?

If you are suffering because of unreasonable noise, we can help you make an application to a Court under the new EP Act:

  • restraining the offender from engaging in specific conduct;
  • requiring the offender to take specific action; and/or
  • for compensation for injury, loss or damage.

Such an application can be brought ex parte, which means it can occur in the absence of the other party and is an effective way to get results fast.

If you are suffering because of unreasonable noise, you should take note of:

  • when you can hear the noise;
  • how long the noise goes on for;
  • how often the noise occurs; and
  • what you think the source of the noise is.

Contemporaneous notes are very important and can be used as evidence later. Depending on your circumstances, we can also help organise expert reports on the noise levels affecting you.

You should also report it to either your local Council, the Police, or the EPA, as below:

What if I’m the one making a lot of noise, am I in breach of the GED?

Simply engaging in a loud activity, either on residential land or in the course of a commercial undertaking, is not a breach of the GED. However, you must ensure that you minimise your noise pollution as far as practicable.

For individuals and residential type noises, its best to take a commonsense approach at first instance; however, pay attention to any complaints which you might receive and if you are going to be doing construction work or DIY, look on the EPA website for guidance about the times of day it is unreasonable to be making these types of noise.

If you are engaging in an activity which requires adherence to an environmental management plan (EMP), make sure you stick to it.

If you have received any of the following, you should seek legal advice:

Please reach out to us if you require any advice about making an application under the GED for noise, or any other pollution or waste which is affecting you.


The above does not constitute legal advice, but is information which may be of general interest. Tisher Liner FC Law will not be held liable or responsible for any claim, which is made as a result of any person relying upon the information contained in this publication.