Pubs and other licensed venues are cultural institutions throughout the Perth Hills. Historically they provided an important focal point for the community over many decades. Live bands and vibrant music have been closely associated with these institutions as they provide entertainment for their patrons. Sound amplification of music coupled with licensed venues being historically located within town sites, can result in an unfortunate intrusion of unwanted sound emissions to residential premises. 

The Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997

The Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 (the Regulations) is the legal framework to which environmental noise is controlled in Western Australia.

The current regulations do not provide provisions or exemptions for licensed venues to emit greater sound emissions than what is prescribed. Therefore, a licensed venue is expected to comply with the allowable sound levels at all times. However, under the current regulatory regime, full compliance with the regulations is difficult to achieve.

A new way forward

The Shire has adopted an alternative program and invites licensed venues to participate in a trial. The trial would seek to satisfy community expectations of environmental noise and limit or prevent noise breakout from day-to-day operations.

This alternative means of noise management relies on the publican assuming sole responsibility through the formation of a robust Noise Management Plan (NMP). 

Noise management plan and implementation

The NMP would cover a broad suite of issues such as (but not limited to):

  • When and what kind of acts are engaged
  • Where and how bands are set up
  • Engagement process with the local community
  • Speaker set up; and
  • Selection and a complaints management process.

The intention is to facilitate a licensed venue effectively and appropriately managing their own noise through a comprehensive NMP.

The process requires a two-way role of trust between the residents and the licensed venue. Residents should trust that the licensed venue will operate in line with their NMP and will take all complaints seriously.

The licensed venue should trust that the residents' accept that the bands will make a measure of noise and can liaise directly with the licensed venue with any concerns.

If however, a publican does not wish to participate in the process or they are not acting in good faith, then the Shire reserves the right to apply the provisions of the Regulations.

Pub band noise management steps 

Step 1: Initial engagement

Shire conducts initial engagement with publican

Step 2: Publican's decision

Publican determines how they wish to proceed 

Step 3: Environmental Regulations 

The publican will either elect not to engage in process; or 

The publican will commit to active management of noise from the venue. They will prepare and implement a Noise Management Plan (NMP). 

Step 4: Environmental Regulations vs Noise Management Plan

If the publican elects not to engage in the process or is not acting in good faith, the Shire will manage the noise complaint via the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997

If the publican commits to a NMP, the Shire has a more tempered compliance role in return for the pub actively and appropriately managing noise and engaging with the community. 

Step 5: Failure to meet Noise Management Plan obligations

If the publican fails to meet its obligations under the noise management plan, a complaint will be managed via the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997

Step 6: Change of ownership

 If the pub ownership or management changes hands, the Shire will conduct initial engagement with the new publican.