Pollution

Different types of environmental pollution and nuisances can impact us all.

Emissions such as smoke, fumes, ash, dust, odour, noise and light have the ability to reduce the quality of life and health of the community, with significant impacts to the natural environment.

These pages provide advice and guidance on avoiding, reducing and reporting pollution.

Air Pollution

Emissions into the air can impact the health and environment around you, including causing health issues such as respiratory problems to the young and elderly and generally interfering in normal daily activities of others.

Air pollution is generally classed into three categories including Odour, Dust, and Smoke. Council only has jurisdiction to act on certain air pollution issues and shares the responsibility of air emissions with other government agencies.

If you have a problem with air emissions such as odour, dust or smoke try and resolve firstly with your neighbour, as they are often not aware of their actions impacting others.  If however, the issue does continue or there is other conflict please contacts Council’s Environmental Health Department.

Ways you can reduce odour emissions include:

  • keep your property tidy and don’t allow vegetation or rubbish to accumulate
  • consider weather conditions before starting work, for example when using fertiliser
  • enclose or cover compost bins and piles of vegetation
  • Liaise with your local Fire Department when looking at burning off vegetation and rubbish.

Who is responsible for Air Pollution complaints?

Air Pollution Nuisance Description of Nuisance Regulatory Authority
Dust Dust being emitted from a Development/building site Council PH 1300 696 272
Dust being emitted from Residential Land ie from mowing
Dust being emitted from farmland
Dust being emitted by State or Local Government from works being conducted
Odour Council Sewage Treatment Plant / Private sewage treatment Plant Council PH 1300 696 272
Septic Tank Council PH 1300 696 272
General ( eg fertiliser, pesticides, waste, hoarding) Council PH 1300 696 272
Offensive odour caused by animal faeces (e.g. dog faeces in a neighbour’s backyard) Council PH 1300 696 272
Piggery, Feedlot or other Primary Industry Biosecurity Queensland PH 13 25 23
Smoke Backyard Burning using incinerator or burning rubbish Council PH 1300 696 272
Commercial Kitchen exhaust canopy Council PH 1300 696 272
Chimney smoke Council PH 1300 696 272
Bushfire Smoke Queensland Fire & Rescue Service
Smokey Vehicle Queensland Transport
Cigarette smoke Queensland Health
Spray Drift Human Health Issues

  • On-farm chemical misuse incident involving human exposure to chemicals
  • Related concerns about risks to human health
Workplace Health & Safety Qld

PH 1300 369 915

  • Spray drift damage to, or abnormal growth in commercial crops,
  • suspected injury or residue contamination to livestock
  • Crops or livestock issues including aquaculture
Biosecurity Queensland PH 13 25 23
Agricultural chemical misuse incidents – spray drift not evident Biosecurity Queensland PH 13 25 23
Environmental damage

  • Affected waterways
  • Damaged vegetation or trees
Department of Environment & Heritage Protection

PH 1300 130 372

Overflying of aerial spraying aircraft over residential homes – NOT FOR SPRAY DRIFT MATTERS Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

PH 13 17 57

Spray Drift incident resulting in more than one impact

I.e. if spray drift has allegedly caused both commercial crop and chemical run-off into a nearby stream, EHP would deal with run off and Biosecurity with the alleged commercial crop damage

Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (EHP)

PH 1300 130 372

 

Biosecurity Queensland PH 13 25 23

 

How to lodge a Service Request with Council

If the air pollution nuisance or health concern is delegated to the council you can lodge a Service Request where an officer will investigate the matter to determine if there is a breach of legislation and if compliance action is required.

Please contact Council on 1300 696 272

Further Information & Resources

Noise, Odour, Dust complaints as determined under the EP Act & State Government:

https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/management/pdf/noise-odour-dust-em138.pdf

Queensland Government – Who to report Chemical Spray Drift to:

https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industry/agriculture/land-management/chemical-controls/spray-drift-issues/who-report-spray-drift

Noise Nuisance

Noise is unwanted sound. Everyone reacts differently to noise. Noise can disturb neighbours, disrupt their sleep and interfere with their normal daily activities. What can be unbearable for one person may pass almost unnoticed by another. How annoyed we become depends on the loudness, time, place and frequency of the noise. Noise can even impact on people’s health, especially the very young and the elderly. Should you have a problem with noise, always attempt to discuss the issue directly with the person responsible for the nuisance in order to try and achieve a solution. Give them an appropriate time frame to do something about it. If the situation hasn’t changed after that time, it may then be necessary to contact the appropriate authority.

Who is responsible?

Council only has jurisdiction to act on certain noise pollution issues, and shares the responsibility of noise control with other government bodies. Examples of noise nuisance where Council can regulate include:

  • Noise from air-conditioners
  • Building work noise
  • Refrigeration equipment noise
  • Regulated devices (power tools, mowers etc.)
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Animal noise (e.g. barking dogs) See barking dogs
  • Water pumps
  • Noise from trail bikes on Council land

Noise complaints not handled by Council

Amplified devices and people – music, loud stereos, parties, rowdy behaviour & burglar alarms Contact the Queensland Police on 13 14 44
Premises with a liquor licence Contact the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation on 13 QGOV (13 74 68)
State government properties or activities that are regulated by the state government Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372
Off-road noisy vehicles and trail bikes Contact the Queensland Police on 13 14 44
On-road noisy vehicles and trail bikes Contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads on 13 23 80
Native animals and birds, such as crows Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372
Aircraft noise Contact your local office of Air Services Australia

Acceptable noise levels and complaints

Noise can disrupt sleep and interfere with daily activities. If loud enough, it can also have a negative impact on people’s health.

Guide to decibel levels

Some noise regulations include a maximum loudness in decibels. Here are usual decibel levels for everyday situations:

  • quiet room in the house – 20 to 30 decibels
  • daytime in a quiet residential street – 35 to 45 decibels
  • large busy office – 50 to 60 decibels
  • lawn mower from 15 metres away – 70 decibels
Noise Category Allowable noise times and levels
Air conditioning equipment and refrigeration equipment Any day

  • 7am–10pm: noise no louder than 5 decibels above background noise level
  • 10pm–7am: noise no louder than 3 decibels above background noise level
Amplifier devices other than at indoor venue or open-air event Monday to Friday

  • 7am–10pm: regulated devices can be used
  • 10pm–7am: no audible noise permitted

Saturday to Sunday

  • 8am–6pm: regulated devices can be used
  • 6pm–8am: no audible noise permitted
Indoor venues Any day

  • 7am–10pm: noise no louder than 5 decibels above background noise level
  • 10pm–12am: either 3 decibels above background noise level
  • 12am–7am: no audible noise permitted
Open-air events Any day

  • 7am–10pm: noise no louder than 70 decibels
  • 10pm–12am: no more than the lesser of 50 decibels or 10 decibels above background noise level
  • 12am–7am: no audible noise permitted
Building work (builder/owner builder only): Monday to Saturday

  • 6.30am–6.30pm: noise permitted
  • 6.30pm–6.30am: no audible noise permitted

Sunday and public holidays

  • No audible noise permitted
Regulated devices (including building work for residential purposes) Regulated device means any of the following— a compressor, a ducted vacuuming system, a generator, a grass-cutter, an impacting tool, a leaf-blower, a mulcher, an oxyacetylene burner, an electrical, mechanical or pneumatic power tool.

Monday to Saturday

  • 7am–7pm: regulated devices can be used
  • 7pm–7am: no audible noise permitted

Sunday and public holidays

  • 8am–7pm: regulated devices can be used
  • 7pm–8am: no audible noise permitted
Swimming pool and spa pumps Any day

  • 7am–7pm: noise no louder than 5 decibels above background noise level
  • 7pm–10pm: no more than 3 decibels above background noise level
  • 10pm–7am: no audible noise permitted

Exemptions

The Environmental Protection Act 1994 provides exemptions from noise created from traffic signals, railway signals and road noise.

Other local government activity exemptions include:

  • road maintenance
  • maintaining water and sewage services
  • preventing or removing public health risks

How to lodge a Service Request

If you would like to lodge a service Request in relation to a noise nuisance, please contact Council on 1300 696 272.

Water Pollution

Water is an essential natural resource. Conserving and maintaining water quality is especially important in Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent. Preventing or reducing water pollution protects our water quality and is essential to maintaining the health of our environment and our own quality of life.

Everyone should employ correct storm water management to ensure that storm water runoff originating from their property is of a quality that ensures downstream environmental values and water quality objectives are protected or enhanced.

If a person or company does not take appropriate erosion and sediment control measures, they can receive on-the-spot fines. Prosecution and court penalties for major development and environmental offences may exceed one million dollars.

Interesting facts about water

  • Less than 1.5% of the Earth’s total supply of water is accessible fresh water.
  • Every year, polluted water kills more than 24 million people in the developing world. Most of those killed are children.
  • Industry is only one source of water pollution. Other sources include sewage treatment plants, households, streets and footpaths.
  • Sediment and soil erosion from building and development sites is major source of water pollution.
  • Individuals pollute water by littering (including cigarette butts), pouring oils down drains and using chemicals on their gardens. These pollutants are then washed or blown into stormwater drains and local waterways.

Council only has jurisdiction to act on certain complaints, and shares the responsibility of water pollution issues with other government bodies. Please refer to the information below which outlines authorities for various water pollution types.

Emergency response

  • Local road or waterway – Occurring on residential land and some commercial land – Contact Council for further clarification.
  • Main road, highway or motorway – Contact your local office of the Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Major waterway (e.g. river, broadwater, ocean, bay) – Contact your local office of Maritime Safety Queensland.

Fish Kill

Release of contaminants

  • Rubbish, cement, oil, paint etc. – Contact Council for further clarification.
  • Bilge water (boat) – Contact your local office of Maritime Safety Queensland.
  • Soil and sediment from a building or development site – Contact Council for further clarification. In addition to responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, property developers and contractors are subject to the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. They may have conditions on their approval about sediment and erosion control.

Lodging a Service Request

If you see sediment, building waste or plant matter entering the storm water system or waterway, you can lodge a Service Request with Council by phoning 1300 696 272 and the issue will be investigated.

If your request is in regards to pollution and sediment from a State Government or Council development site  Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372. http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/contactus/index.html#1300130372

Contaminated Land

What is Contaminated Land?

Schedule 4 of the Environmental Protection Act defines “Contaminated land” as being land contaminated by a hazardous substance that may pose a risk to human health or the environment, for example, arsenic, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) or oil. Contamination could have occurred for a number of reasons, including accidental spills, poor waste disposal practices or poor environmental management practices in industrial or commercial activities.  These incidents are generally historical and were a result of practises that weren’t deemed as dangerous at the time.

Contaminated land is managed in Queensland under a range of documents including the:

  • Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act)
  • National Environmental Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (ASC NEPM 1999) (NEPC 1999a).
  • Guidelines for the Assessment of On-Site Containment of Contaminated Soil (National Containment Guidelines) (ANZECC 1999)
  • Health Screening Levels for Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Soil and Groundwater (CRC CARE Health Screening Levels) (Friebel and Nadebaum 2011)
  • Canada-wide standard for petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) in soil (CCME 2008)
  • Guidelines for the Assessment, Remediation and Management of Asbestos-Contaminated Sites in Western Australia (WA Asbestos Guidelines) (DoH and DEC 2009).
  • Land development and development approvals in Queensland are coordinated under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) by an assessment manager (usually the relevant local government) with referral agencies assessing applications against the requirements of legislation and planning schemes.

Who is responsible for contaminated land?

The Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (DEHP) keeps two important registers which keep all lands that have in accordance with the legislation been deemed as Contaminated Land.  These two registers are the Environmental Management Register and the Contaminated Land Register.

Environmental Management Register

The Environmental Management Register (EMR) is a land use planning and management register. Land that has been or is being used for a notifiable activity is recorded on the EMR by the QLD Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

  • The EMR provides information on current and historical land use, including whether the land has been or is currently used for a notifiable activity, or has been contaminated by a hazardous contaminant.
  • These sites are considered ‘low risk’ to human health or the environment under the current land use.
  • Entry on the EMR does not mean that the land must be cleaned up or that the current land use must cease. However, it is possible that they may pose a risk to human health and/or the environment if the land use of these sites were to change. Hence, the appropriate investigation and, if necessary, remediation will be required to be undertaken before any change in land use takes place.

Contaminated Land Register

The Contaminated Land Register (CLR) is a register of proven contaminated land (considered ‘risk sites’), that is causing or may cause serious environmental harm.

  • Land is recorded on the CLR when a scientific investigation shows that the land is contaminated and action needs to be taken to remediate or manage the land to prevent serious environmental harm or adverse public health risks.
  • Actions could include:
    • technical measures to prevent the migration of contaminants
    • full removal of contaminants and off-site treatment to prevent serious or material environmental harm or public health risks.

QLD Contaminated Land Search

You can request through the Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (DEHP) for a “contaminated land search”. Please see link below:

https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/factsheets/pdf/environment/search-contaminatedland-registers-results.pdf

If my property is on the EMR

If your property is listed on the EMR or CLR, to be removed from the EMR, or to be permitted to develop or change the land use of the property, a site investigation may need to be undertaken.

Depending on the results of the site investigation a site management plan or remediation of the land may also be required to change the land use.

Entry on the EMR does not mean the land must be remediated or that the current land use must stop

For more information about what it means if your land is on a register, visit EHP’s website at www.ehp.qld.gov.au/land/contaminated-land/index.html.

Further Information

Contact Queensland Government on 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or visit the below website

http://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/contaminated-land/

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