Kaleen making a racket about loud music while Hume air conditioner leaves neighbours hot under the collar

Glynis Quinlan 24 September 2018

The most common reasons for noise complaints in the ACT are loud music and noisy parties.

It seems there are a lot of sleepless nights in the leafy family suburb of Kaleen which for the second year in a row has recorded the highest number of noise complaints about loud music of any ACT suburb.

But the dubious honour of having the most noise complaints in the 2017-18 financial year went to the suburb of Hume – where 100 of its 101 complaints were about air-conditioners!

If that seems a trifle odd, Access Canberra has come to the rescue by explaining that a single industrial building was the cause of the problem in Hume – with “numerous complaints from a few neighbouring businesses”. Puns about needing to ‘cool off’ may not go down well here.

Kaleen had the second highest number of overall noise complaints for 2017-18 at 98 – two more complaints than in the previous year. Both these extra complaints must have been about loud music, with those complaints also increasing by two.

Leafy Kaleen looks peaceful but for the second year in a row residents made the highest number of noise complaints about loud music of all Canberra suburbs. Photo: Glynis Quinlan.

Belconnen had the third highest number of noise complaints with 82 (62 for loud music), followed closely by Kambah with 81 (59 for loud music) and then the City with 64 (30 for loud music and 15 for building noise).

Making up the rest of the top 10 ACT suburbs with the most noise complaints in 2016-17 were Braddon with 49, Kingston with 44, Isabella Plains with 40, Deakin with 40 and Harrison with 37.

A total of 2,177 noise complaints were made to the Environment Protection Authority in the 12 months to June 30, 2018.

The vast majority of noise complaints were for amplified music, with this being the cause of 1,208 complaints.

The second biggest cause of noise complaints was for construction at 378, while noisy air conditioners, fans or heaters were the cause of 145 ACT complaints (mainly from Hume).

The second biggest cause of ACT noise complaints was construction.

Noisy people led to 102 complaints, noisy vehicles were the cause of 98 complaints, and mechanical plants and equipment sparked 74 noise complaints.

The next biggest cause was PA systems (57 complaints), followed by garden work (46 complaints), alarms (40 complaints), waste collection (18 complaints) and gym equipment (11 complaints).

An Access Canberra spokesperson said that, in the ACT, noise accounts for about 80 per cent of complaints to the EPA and the most common complaints are about loud music, noisy parties, and noise coming from air conditioners.

“Many residential noise concerns can be resolved with a simple conversation,” the Access Canberra spokesperson said.

“The Environment Protection Authority encourages Canberrans to resolve residential noise concerns by talking directly with their neighbours.

“Often your neighbour is not aware that their noise is affecting you and a simple conversation and a desire to work together can solve the problem.

“Anyone with noisy neighbours should try having a conversation with their neighbour first as it is often better than letters or messages.”

Access Canberra’s tips to help get the conversation started include:

  1. Think ahead of time about what you want to say
  2. Choose a time to chat that is convenient
  3. Explain calmly how the noise is affecting you
  4. Listen to your neighbour’s side of the story and acknowledge what they tell you
  5. Suggest a solution – do you want them to lower the noise or change the time they make the noise?
  6. Be willing to compromise
  7. Keep a record of your conversation while it is still fresh in your mind – this may be useful in the future.

Anyone needing assistance in broaching a noise issue with their neighbour can contact the Conflict Resolution Service on 6190 7100 or email mediation@crs.org.au. These services are confidential and free for neighbourhood disputes.

Information about acceptable noise levels, how to have a conversation with a neighbour about noise, how to report a noise issue, and how noise complaints are managed in the ACT is available on the Access Canberra noise portal at www.act.gov.au/noise.

Did your suburb make the top 10 in terms of noise complaints? If you live in Kaleen, what do you think is the main cause of the suburb’s high number of complaints about loud music? Let us know in the comments below.

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