Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council regularly responds to complaints about pollution incidences, environmental nuisances and public health issues arising from residential, commercial or industrial properties.
Council shares responsibility for enforcing noise control legislation with the NSW EPA, NSW Police, NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR). The type of noise and/or the location of where the noise is coming from will determine which agency will respond.
Residential Noise Sources
Council will respond to concerns about noisy activities from residential sources such as from power tools, equipment, air conditioners, pool pumps etc. The Protection of the Environmental Operations (POEO) Act 1997 places time restrictions on noise from certain equipment in residential premises which should not be audible inside habitable rooms of any other residential premises, which are outlined in the Dealing with neighbourhood noise factsheet.
Dealing with neighbourhood noise
Wood Smoke and Open Burning
Council often receives complaints about smoke and odour from backyard burning and wood heaters. Smoke and smoke particulates can cause pollution and impact on health.
Burning anything other than vegetation could release airborne pollutants into the environment and is an offence under the Protection of the Environmental Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2002. Under this legislation, the following items are prohibited and should not be burnt:
- Domestic, commercial or industrial waste
- Coated wire
- Paint or paint containers
- Solvent residues and containers
- Treated timber (CCA or PCP)
For more information see our factsheet Woodsmoke and Open Burning
Littering and illegal dumping
According to the NSWEPA, the single most common litter item in Australia is the cigarette butt. Cigarette butts make up half of the litter in NSW. Other common litter includes small pieces of paper, chip and confectionery wrappers, fast-food packaging, bottle caps, glass pieces, glass alcohol bottles, plastic straws and soft drink bottles.
Littering is an offence. You can be fined if you commit a littering offence. For further information please visit the NSW EPA website: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/litter-and-illegal-dumping#:~:text=Litter%20and%20illegal%20dumping%20means%20tossing%2C%20tipping%20or,as%20asbestos%20and%20chemicals%20in%20isolated%20bushland%20areas.
Littering from vehicles
Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 it is an offence to deposit litter from a vehicle. There are significant financial penalties for this offence. Council officers have the ability to issue on the spot penalty notices for where littering is observed. More serious offences such as littering cigarette butts from vehicles during a total fire ban period may attract higher penalty notice amounts.
If you see someone littering from their vehicle, you can report them to the EPA. To report littering from a vehicle you need to:
- have actually seen the litter being thrown, or blown, from the vehicle
- provide the vehicle registration details and the location where the littering took place
- report the incident within 14 days
If you see litter being thrown or blown from a vehicle or trailer you can report it via the EPA website https://apps.epa.nsw.gov.au/ASMSlightProfileApp/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=/mvReporting2app/
Council incurs significant costs for the investigation, collection and disposal of illegally dumped material. Dumping of household rubbish, garden waste, building and commercial waste is a problem and can cause:
- Chemical and physical pollution in our neighbourhood and waterways;
- The spread of pests, weeds and also create fire hazards from dumped greenwaste; and
- Pollution of waterways from hazardous materials.
If you observe illegal dumping you can report it to Council or via the NSW EPA RID Online https://ridonline.epa.nsw.gov.au/#/home
Illegal dumping reported via RIDOnline will be further investigated by Council rangers and compliance officers.
Emergency incidents – If there is an immediate emergency such as toxic fumes or a large chemical spill, call 000 immediately.
For urgent responses – If dumped waste poses an immediate environmental risk contact:
- Council for small urgent incidents (under two trailer loads) 1300 445 586
- EPA Environment Line on 131 555 for large urgent incidents (over two trailer loads).
- Call 000 to report major pollution incidents
If you observe a major pollution incident that presents an immediate threat to human health or property, such as toxic fumes or a large chemical spill, call 000 to report it to emergency services. As first responders, Fire and Rescue NSW, the NSW Police and the NSW Ambulance Service are responsible for controlling and containing incidents.
- If you observe pollution which is not an emergency and if it is safe to, contact the company or person causing the pollution as they may not be aware.
- Report the incident to the responsible authority – depending on the incident and source either Council or the NSW EPA may be responsible for regulating the pollution. If unsure contact Council on 1300 459689 or the EPA Environment Line 131 555.
Long grass, untidy properties, vermin and pests
Council often receives customer requests in relation to overgrown and untidy properties and concerns about fire risk, vermin and pests.
Council officers will inspect the property to ascertain whether the property could be considered unsafe or unhealthy, and may initiate regulatory action. Council officers cannot take action unless there is evidence to support regulatory action.
It is important to note that not all residents have the desire to keep properties in a park like condition and an untidy yard is not necessarily an unhealthy or unsafe one.
A hoarding situation is a particularly challenging and complex issue that Council is not resourced to intervene and can only take action in relation to public health or safety risks.
Council will not respond to customer requests in relation to potential fire risk of overgrown vegetation in rural areas, these requests should be directed to NSW Rural Bushfire Service.
Fences and Overhanging trees
Council often receives enquiries in relation to boundary and dividing fences, however such matters are regulated under the Dividing Fences Act 1991 and are a civil matter that neighbours need to work out between themselves.
If the matter cannot be resolved, residents can seek legal advice or contact a Community Justice Centre for free independent meditation services. The Community Justice Centre also provides responses to frequently asked questions which can assist from an early stage.
Overhanging trees from neighbours can be another source of complaint; this is also a civil matter that is best dealt with by talking with your neighbours. You have some rights to prune overhanging branches and roots from your neighbour’s tree however you should first check with Council to see if there is a Tree Preservation Order.
If a tree on Council land is overgrown or needs pruning, you need to contact Council who will assess and, if needed, undertake the work.
Stormwater issues on private property
Council officers will investigate and take action on stormwater drainage complaints where it relates to the flow of surface water from one property across the common land boundary onto another property in the following circumstances:
- Surface water has been directed to and/or concentrated in a particular area by a man-made structure or drain; and
- Surface water is the result of defective roof drainage from a dwelling or outbuilding.
All houses and outbuildings (such as sheds) should have adequate stormwater drainage to a legal point of discharge (e.g. connected to kerb and gutter or other approved location).
Council will not take action in circumstances where storm water runoff:
- is due to the natural flow of surface water across land due topography; and
- occurs only in periods of exceptionally heavy rain. Roof gutters will not cope during heavy rain and stormwater will overflow.
If your neighbour has made changes to their property that now directs water into your property or there is inadequate roof drainage on their house or shed, contact Council to report your concern.
HOW TO LODGE A COMPLAINT OR REQUEST
A central customer service system is used to lodge requests and report issues identified by residents.
To bring an issue to our attention, you can contact us on 1300 459 689, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of our offices.
To investigate your concern, Council will need the following information:
- Your Name
- Contact phone number
- Nature of concern
- Address/location of the problem
Council staff will generally not act on anonymous complaints as we may need to contact you to clarify or seek further information about the problem to undertake investigations or regulatory action. Council will only act upon anonymous complaints where the matter is considered a serious public health or safety risk and immediate action may be required, As we may need to contact the complainant to obtain additional information to assist in regulatory action.
Community Justice Centres – Assistance with Neighbourhood Dispute Resolution https://www.cjc.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/cjc_whatis_mediation/com_justice_neighbours.aspx
EPA Preventing Neighbourhood Noise https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/noise/neighbourhood-noise/preventing-neighbourhood-noise
EPA – Litter and Illegal dumping https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/litter-and-illegal-dumping