Noise in the city

photo-icon Hayden Lihou

What can be done about unwanted noise in the neighbourhood

Adelaide is a fun, vibrant and growing city. With its busy schedule of events and festivals, there’s something happening day and night. The colour and vibrant atmosphere draws new people here to live daily.

Try before you buy

If you’ve not lived in a city centre before, it’s a great idea to try before you buy. The diversity of activity in the inner city generates higher levels of external noise than in suburban or rural areas, so it’s important you’re ready for it before you commit.

Visit the area at different times of day and consider the impact of things like transport, crowd movement, surrounding buildings and businesses (especially hotels and restaurants) and any construction nearby. If you can, stay a night in a hotel, so you’ll understand the ongoing sounds such as air conditioning and ventilation equipment and early morning noises such as waste collection, a vital part of keeping the city clean and healthy.

Remember: what’s acceptable noise for some, is not acceptable for others. Even at low volume, a sound may be annoying due to the characteristic of the noise such as pitch, duration, impulsiveness or how frequently it occurs. It all depends on what you are prepared to tolerate.

Property design

The design and features used in the construction of your property can greatly influence the noises of the city you hear:

  • Is your property under a flightpath, near a major road or event venue?
  • Are the doors and windows adequately glazed and insulated?
  • Are there air conditioner or other motors positioned near windows?

There are a range of building standards and codes that have regulations about noise and noise minimisation. This includes the Adelaide (City) Development Plan.

What to do if there is an issue

Given the vast variety of activity that generates noise, noise regulation in South Australia falls under a range of different legislation, administered by different agencies and authorities.

If you are experiencing noise problems from a neighbouring business or residential property, we suggest you raise the issue with them first. Invite them in for a cuppa or drop a polite note in their letterbox. Express your concerns honestly and respectfully. Remember: they may not even be aware of the issue. Once they are aware, given them time to reduce the noise. If this does not solve the problem, then you may need to contact the appropriate authority. 

Who can you call?

The table below shows a matrix of the agencies that can be contacted for advice, resolution or assistance of noise matters.

It should be noted that timely and consistent service of a particular issue is subject to an agency’s available resources and work load priorities at any given time. Some instances may require the involvement of several agencies.

Type on noise
Local CouncilEPA (SA)PoliceProperty/ Strata ManagerCommunity Mediation Service
People Noise (parties, loud TV/radio, musical instruments, revving vehicles & shouting)



Animal Noise



Waste Collection


Fixed Domestic Machinery (air conditioners)




Domestic Activity (power tools, lawn mowers etc.)




Noise from a residence located within the same multi-tenanted building/group



Intruder Alarms



Type of noise

Local Council


Office of Liquor and Gambling Commissioner

Safework SA or Work Cover

Licensed Premises & Patrons x
Waste Collection x
Mechanical Plant / Air-Conditionersxx
Frost Fanxx
Noise within the Workplace x
Type of noise

Local Council



Air Services Australia

Aircraft x
Street Maintenancexx
Events (except Botanic Gardens & Adelaide 500)x
‘Hoons’ / Anti-Social Behaviour x

Environment Protection Agency (SA)

08 8204 2004

SA Police

131 444

Customer and Business Services (for hotel and gambling venues)

131 882

Safework SA

1300 365 255

Return to Work SA

13 18 55

Air Services Australia

1800 802 584

Community Mediation Service

South Australian Community Legal Centres

8111 5555 or 1300 366 424

Need more information?

For further information please read the Sounds in the City brochure. If you have specific questions, please contact the Customer Centre:

08 8203 7203

Send an email