We are able to investigate complaints about noise and public transport. However there are some significant limits to our jurisdiction which are explained below.
What you need to tell us
When you make a noise complaint to us, you will need to provide the following information:
- Relevant dates, times and locations;
- Frequency of the noise;
- Types of noise (a clear description will help to identify the source);
- Carriage numbers, bus numbers, tram numbers where possible; and
- Any changes in services/noise levels that you have noticed.
You will need to tell us what you are seeking to resolve your complaint and we will discuss with you whether this is likely to be achieved through our process.
Where relevant, we may look at what measures you have implemented to reduce the impact of noise on your property.
We will usually arrange a site visit which allows us to meet with you and the operator and identify the noise that is of concern. A site visit is useful because it ensures the nature of the complaint is understood by everyone and all parties will have the opportunity to hear the noise and assess whether it is unusual or standard operational noise.
We will consider all the information provided in assessing the merits of your complaint. This will include investigating:
• The source of the noise and whether any laws or codes exempt the operator from liability;
• Whether practical steps have been taken by the operator to reduce the noise emissions as far as is practicable;
• Whether any further practical reduction in noise emissions is possible; and
• The handling of your complaint by the operator.
Limits to our jurisdiction
There are a number of limits to our jurisdiction in relation to noise complaints.
The Ombudsman can make a binding decision up to the value of $5,000 or $10,000 with the agreement of the operator. The likely costs involved in making changes to infrastructure or rolling stock to eliminate the cause of noise would in most cases exceed our monetary limit.
Tram and train operators have exemptions from some environmental controls under legislation, which generally place the needs of operators to run an efficient and effective passenger service for the general public ahead of the rights of individuals to quiet enjoyment of their property.
Responsibility for the specification of and design of trains, trams, sidings, depots, stations and platforms rest with the Victorian Government, therefore we cannot investigate this aspect of a noise complaint.
We can identify when an operator is not complying with legislation, regulation or standards, but we do not have an enforcement role. We need to refer these issues to the relevant regulator or enforcement body, which can include PTV or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Noise complaints can involve complex issues and in some instances the outcome being sought (cessation of all noise) may not be possible. We may consider that other remedies should be provided to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome is achieved, in the context of our jurisdiction. These remedies may include:
- Provision of information
- An apology
- A commitment by the operator to review internal processes/conduct
- A change of internal policies/procedures
- The provision of a goodwill gesture
We aim to resolve complaints through agreement, but when investigating noise complaints this is often not possible. If your complaint cannot be resolved through agreement and we cannot assist further, we will try to refer to another organisation.