Disturbing Noise in the urban environment

Disturbing Noise in the urban environment – a loud party, for example – is usually governed by municipal by-laws, and if they refuse to respond to your polite requests to tone it down, a visit from the SAPS will usually do the trick.

If you do decide to take legal steps against your neighbour, you should begin by making a written complaint to your Local Authority. Many of them have Noise Control Units whose officials are empowered to take steps if they find that a problem exists. They could serve an instruction to reduce the noise, issue a fine, or even – in extreme cases – confiscate equipment.

Penalties for violating noise by-laws are laid out in Section 9 of the Noise Control Regulations: “any person who contravenes or fails to comply section 4 and 5 and liable on conviction to a fine no exceeding R 20,000.00 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.”

Tshwane Municipal Health Services developed a Noise Management System which is based on its Noise Management Policy. As an integral part of the Noise Management System, it has been necessary for Council to define appropriate noise level standards for relevant land use/activity situations in the City as one of the essential control mechanisms for ensuring a suitable noise climate in its area of jurisdiction. The City of Tshwane area has been subdivided into appropriate noise zones in which these land use related noise level standards have been applied.

The Noise Management System forms part of the Geographical Information System (ArcGIS) currently used by the City of Tshwane. The Noise Management System is a unique system and is a first of its kind in the Republic of South Africa. There is currently a huge interest from other Metro Councils in the development of the system and how the system can be utilized in order to control noise pollution.

Frequently asked questions regarding noise:

1. Is it possible for the public to complain about noise?Yes, it is your constitutional right to complain.

2. Where can I report a noise complaint? Complaints can be communicated to the municipal health services information desk at the following number: 012 358 4656 or via e-mail:ehonestop@tshwane.gov.za

3. How and under what legislation do you investigate noise complaints? Municipal Health Services is utilizing the Gauteng Noise Control Regulation as guideline to enforce noise control in the City of Tshwane.

4. How does Municipal Health Services deal with noise complaints? After a complaint has been received and registered at the Municipal Health Services information desk, a standard operating procedure is followed by the Environmental Health Practitioner to investigate the complaint.

This will include:

  • Investigate;
  • Validate the complaint;
  • Issue a notification on the transgressor;
  • Request an affidavit from the complainant;
  • When necessary a final notification is issued; and / or
  • Legal action may be instituted for non-compliance.

5. What is the legal requirement to comply with the Gauteng Noise Control Regulation? The Gauteng Noise Control Regulation prescribes a specific noise rating level for every different land use activity. This information can be obtained from the Municipal Health Services information desk at the following number: 012 358 4656 or via email:ehonestop@tshwane.gov.za

6. From statistical analysis of noise complaints, the following complaints are being received on a regular basis:

  • Noise from emergency power generators;
  • Noise from pubs, taverns and shebeens;
  • Music related church activities;
  • Barking dogs;
  • Noisy electromechanical equipment, e.g. compressors, extractor fans, etc.;  and
  • Noise from illegal home industries e.g. use of grinders, power tools, etc.

7. Are you dealing with illegal business premises causing noise?Yes, these kinds of complaints are investigated and reported to City Planning who will act on the zoning in terms of the Tshwane Town Planning Scheme. Municipal Health Services will investigate the noise aspect. In certain cases noise measurements will be required. Depending on the outcome of the noise measurement report, legal action might be instituted against the transgressor.

8. How do you deal with new developments in the city in terms of noise? New developments involve new township establishments, rezoning and consent use applications.

After evaluation of the application, comments and inputs with regard to noise control are submitted by Municipal Health Services to City Planning. A noise impact assessment of the proposed development will also form part of the requirements of Municipal Health Services. This proactive approach is followed in order to prevent future noise complaints from such developments.

9. Did you have any successful court cases with regard to noise? Yes, recently, 3 cases

Topic: General issues concerning environmental health:

1. What other issues are handled by MHS? Any environmental issue that has an impact on human health will be handled by MHS, e.g. vector breeding, illegal dumping, air pollution such as smoke or dust, use of chemicals, etc.

2. Do I need permission to sell food or start a food handling business? Yes, you need a certificate of acceptability from MHS – you can phone 012 358 4656 for assistance.

3. Where do I report possible food poisoning? You can phone 012 358 4656 or 012 358 8766 during working hours.

4. Where can I report someone smoking in a non-smoking area? You can phone 012 358 4656 during working hours or Metro Police after hours at 012 358 7095.

5. Do my child’s crèche need a certificate? Yes, a health certificate needs to be issues by MHS under the Child Care Services Bylaw and must be displayed.

6. Is the safety of drinking water monitored? Yes, MHS takes frequent samples of the drinking water to ensure safety.

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