Frequently Asked Questions
- I have a noise complaint. Who can help me?
Most of us have been disturbed from time to time by neighbourhood noise and there are probably occasions when we have been responsible for causing disturbance. Current trends towards smaller block sizes in residential areas have increased the probability of producing noise that may affect others.
So what is noise?
Noise can be best described as an unwanted or unpleasant sound. Noise can disrupt people’s lives causing loss of sleep, interference to activities and emotional stress. Assigned noise levels are set out in the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 to ensure that noise from premises is kept to acceptable levels for other neighbouring properties.
When is noise unreasonable?
The noise regulations set different levels for the type of premises receiving noise at various times of the day. As a guide, noise which is clearly audible at the boundary of a property may cause a disturbance and exceed prescribed noise levels. Any noise emitted from premises must comply with prescribed noise levels. However the legislation does allow, under strict conditions, certain noisy activities to occur.
Equipment used on residential premises
Specified equipment is defined as "any equipment that requires the constant presence of an operator e.g. lawn mower, power tools." Specified equipment, other than a musical instrument, should not be used for more than 2 hours per day. Musical instruments are not to be used for more than 1 hour per day.
Specified equipment may only be used between 7am - 7pm Monday to Saturday and 9am - 7pm Sunday and Public Holidays. The equipment must be used in a reasonable manner and not interfere with the health, welfare, convenience or amenity of an occupier of a premises receiving noise.
Click here to download a copy of the Shire's Guidelines for Noise in Residential Areas information sheet.
Peri-urban lifestyle means different things to different people. For some, it represents rural tranquility in a natural landscape - an escape from the noise and bustle of the suburbs. For others it is an opportunity to enjoy larger properties which can include recreational riding of horses, motorcycles and other activities.
Sometimes these different objectives are in conflict with one another, with the interests of one neighbour impacting on the ability of the other neighbour to derive their perceived lifestyle benefits. For example, a person seeking tranquility may be upset by constant motorcycle noise, while a person wanting to ride on their own property may be equally upset if complaints from neighbours, upheld by the authorities, prevent them from riding.
To protect people’s rights to enjoy their own property without the intrusion of unreasonable noise, the law sets limits and gives Local Governments the authority to stop activities that exceed those limits, and this includes the incorrect use of a motorbike or quad bike on any private property which may cause a disturbance to the people living on the surrounding properties. Equipment such as motorbikes or quad bikes is referred to as 'Specified Equipment' and can be controlled under Regulation 14 of the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997.
'Specified equipment' is defined as being any equipment that requires the constant presence of an operator for normal use.
The use of motorbikes on private property may not always be appropriate. The following table outlines the property sizes that the Shire of Esperance believes may be appropriate for the use of such equipment with certain conditions:
Property Size: Requirements: <5 acres Generally not appropriate. 5 - 20 acres Need to comply with Regulation 14. 20+ acres Generally use is allowed if there is no breach of the Table of Assigned Levels set out in Regulation 7. If there is a breach of Regulation 7 then you must comply with the requirements detailed below.
Where the use of motorbikes on private property is permitted, it is required (as per Regulation 14) that certain control measures are taken to reduce the noise emissions and to minimise the effect on your neighbours. The main requirement is that the equipment is to be used in a reasonable manner.
The Shire of Esperance defines this as follows:
- the motorbike must have an unmodified factory fitted muffler(s) and be in a standard state of tune;
- motorcross jumps should not be used;
- the bike must not be unreasonably revved;
- the bike must not be purposely ridden up and down a particular boundary; and
- only bikes permanently housed at the property can be used.
When can motorbikes be ridden on private property?
According to Regulation 14 (2) (b) and 14 (2) (d) there are specific times and durations in which motorbikes / quad bikes may be used on private property so as to limit the effect the noise has on neighbours.
Specified equipment, such as motorbikes may not be used for more than two hours in any one day, and this two hour window can only occur between 7am and 7pm on Monday to Saturday, 9am and 7pm on Sunday and Public Holidays.
How to make a complaint
Fill in a complaint or service request form. Forms are available through Development Services in the Shire Administration Centre on Windich Street. Put your complaint in writing:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail to Development Services, Shire of Esperance, PO Box 507, Esperance WA 6450
For all general enquiries or assistance contact Environmental Health on (08) 9071 0676.
- There's a horrible smell in the air, what do I do?
Odours in the environment can often be a nuisance to residents. When contacting the Shire regarding an odour nuisance try and pinpoint where the odour is coming from so an investigation can be conducted quickly and efficiently.
Air quality issues emanating from the Esperance Port are outside the direct control of the Shire. All such issues must be reported directly to the Esperance Port Authority on (08) 9072 3333 or email email@example.com.
- When can I burn backyard rubbish?
Under Shire of Esperance Health Local Laws the burning of rubbish either on the ground or in an incinerator is not permitted without the prior written approval of the Shire. If you are caught burning off rubbish you may be fined. The Wylie Bay Waste Management Facility passes, provided on the rates notice for a given property, provide the only legal refuse disposal outside normal rubbish and recycling services. The Wylie Bay Waste Management Facility is located on Wylie Bay Road at Bandy Creek and is available for your use, however fees do apply where passes are not available or sufficient for any reason. For general enquiries contact the Wylie Bay Waste Management Facility directly on (08) 9071 7594.
- How do I reduce pollution from wood burning fires?
Wood Smoke and Wood Heaters
Wood heaters are a large source of air pollution and contribute to the smoky haze often seen around Esperance during the winter months. This air pollution can have adverse health impacts on those with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. Home owners with wood heaters have a responsibility to ensure that minimal smoke is produced.
Follow these tips for correct wood heater operation:
- Ensure only dry wood is burned as wet wood produces significantly more smoke and doesn't burn as well
- Do not burn any household waste or painted wood
- Ensure firewood is kept undercover to protect it from moisture
- Do not overload the wood heater with large logs as this will reduce air flow and cause more smoke
- Ensure your flue is cleaned annually as accumulation of soot reduces air flow
- Your chimney should smoke for no more than 5 to 10 minutes after lighting or refuelling
- Use plenty of kindling and small logs to ensure a hot fire is produced quickly as slow burning causes smoke. Add some newspaper above the fuel load to heat the flue to increase the draught – this will make the fire easier to start
- Always leave the air intake open for at least 20 minutes after lighting the fire and after refueling – fire requires oxygen to burn
- By fitting a parallel rain excluder to the chimney (not a chimney cap) this will send smoke straight upwards rather than dispersing it outwards
- Don’t shut down the air intake during operation or overnight. Let the fire burn out and re-light in the morning
More information can be found at www.der.wa.gov.au.
- What laws apply to smoking in public or enclosed spaces?
Western Australia's smoking laws aim to protect children and adults from the harmful consequences of passive smoking and target the promotion of tobacco products. Food businesses, tobacco retail outlets and the general public need to be aware that these laws are in force and include:
- A complete ban on the display of tobacco products and smoking implements in retail premises, however still allowing "specialist retailers" to continue displaying tobacco
- A complete ban on smoking in all outdoor eating areas, i.e. public places provided on a commercial basis where people eat or drink sitting at tables including restaurants, hotels, cafes and food outlets. Note that liquor licensed premises, that are not the subject of a restaurant licence, may allocate a smoking zone of up to 50% of all outdoor areas provided that the area is not already an "enclosed public place". Staff in a liquor licensed premise must not be forced to provide service in a smoking zone and cannot be dismissed for refusing to do so
- A complete ban on smoking in cars with children under 17 years of age present
- A complete ban on smoking within 10 metres of children's playground equipment
- A complete ban on smoking between the flags of patrolled beaches
If you would like to discuss any aspect or breaches of these smoking related requirements contact the Department of Health's Tobacco Control Branch who will assist where necessary.
- I'm getting sand-blasted by dust from a nearby property, what can be done?
The Shire of Esperance Private Property Local Laws govern the practices of owners and occupiers of land to ensure that sand drift does not cause a nuisance. As this mainly occurs during development of the land it is important to discuss your intentions with your neighbours.
'Sand' refers to any granular or particulate material consisting of small eroded fragments of rocks finer than gravel and includes dust or organic matter.
Depending on the site conditions, cost and the time lapse prior to development the following are some of the options that should be considered:
- hydro-mulching or seeding
- liquid polymer emulsion
- apply water/spray/sprinkler (more of a short term solution)
- hessian wind barriers
- I've found a syringe, what do I do with it and who can I contact?
Sometimes needles and syringes are discarded improperly rather than exchanged or disposed of in appropriate containers. This can create concern for people in the community who find them.
If you find a needle or syringe the following steps from the WA Department of Health provide guidance on what to do:
- Do not be alarmed
- Get a rigid-walled, puncture resistant, plastic container with a well-secured lid (preferably screw top). Avoid using glass which can shatter, aluminium that can be squashed or frosted plastic that may not be puncture-proof
- Bring the container to the needle and syringe. Place on the ground next to the needle and syringe. Do not hold the container as you are putting the syringe in it
- Pick up the used needle and syringe by the blunt end, away from the point. Do not touch the sharp point
- Do not try to put the plastic protective cap back on a needle if it has been removed
- Put the needle and syringe, point first, into the container. More than one needle and syringe can be placed in the container but do not overfill. Do not carry the needle and syringe unless it is in a suitable container
- Make sure the container is tightly sealed
- Put the sealed container in a domestic rubbish bin. Do not put needles and syringes down toilets, in recycling bins or post boxes
- If you accidently prick yourself with the needle, find out how to treat discarded needle and syringe injuries
Tell children never to pick up a needle but to let an adult know if they find one.
Do not dispose of loose needles and syringes directly into green waste collection bins, recycling bins, drains, toilets or postboxes.
- How can I help to stop the spread of infectious diseases?
Amoebic meningitis is a disease that causes inflammation and eventual destruction of the brain and brain linings. It is caused by a single celled amoeba that lives in fresh water. The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, can survive in soil for a long time and still reactivate when put in fresh water. The Department of Health's fact sheet regarding Amoebic Meningitis provides further information.
Ross River Virus
Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus are two of the most common mosquito borne viruses causing human disease in Western Australia. The Department of Health's fact sheet Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus in WA provides further information.
Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that live and feed on the human scalp; however they aren't dangerous, don't carry disease and aren't a sign of poor hygiene. The Department of Health's Head Lice fact sheet and Communicable Disease Guidelines provide further information regarding the signs of head lice, treatment options and preventative measures.
For additional information or assistance contact Environmental Health Services on (08) 9071 0676, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call into the Shire Administration Centre on Windich Street.
- How do I get rid of rodent or insect infestations?
Bed bugs do not necessarily carry disease, however their bite and the corresponding saliva can cause welts to form as well as an allergic reaction in some instances.
They can be found hiding almost anywhere - in mattress piping, bed bases, door and window architraves, woodwork, behind electrical fittings, in old books, magazines and papers, behind wallpaper, in clothing, drawers, behind curtains and drapes, any crack and crevice in floors or walls, wallpaper joints, upholstered furniture, pictures, covers, bedspreads and anywhere else that affords them sanctuary. Well-used bed bug hiding places will usually be covered in small spots of black or dark red dried blood.
Additional information is available by downloading the Department of Health Bed Bugs and Their Control brochure.
What do I do if I experience bed bugs at a short-term accommodation premises within the Shire?
Inform the management of the premises immediately. This is extremely important as the room and your belongings will need to be separated. They will have a bed bug management procedure in place.
- Seek treatment for bites from a pharmacy
- Contact Environmental Health on (08) 9071 0676 to make a complaint
- Check your belongings for bed bugs. Bed bugs can easily move with you in your belongings so it is advised they be separated in sealed bags until they can be properly treated
- Wash all your clothing and linen in hot water above 60°C and dry in a clothes dryer on a hot setting
- For removal of bed bugs from more complex objects you may want to consult the advice of a qualified pest controller
What do I do if I experience bed bugs in my house?
- If anyone in the house has recently been travelling, check all their belongings and separate them in sealed bags
- Wash all clothing and linen in hot water above 60°C and dry in a clothes dryer on a hot setting
- Contact a qualified pest controller to carry out treatment in the rooms. They may be able to use both chemical and non-chemical methods to treat affected areas dependant on the individual circumstances.
Mosquitos are causing nuisance, what is the Shire of Esperance doing and what can I do?
The Shire of Esperance does undertake monitoring and baiting of some public areas in an effort to decrease the numbers of mosquitos. However, it is still important the property owners and occupiers take measures to ensure that mosquitos do not breed in their backyards and lead to an increase in nuisance.
Mosquitos in your backyard
Mosquito control in your own back yard is as important as mosquito control in public areas. Millions of mosquitos breed in back yards in water-holding objects such as buckets, tyres and unused water tanks. Effective control throughout the community will lead to a drop in the number of mosquitos.
How to prevent mosquito bites
Many mosquitoes bite around dusk and dawn but some can bite day and night. The only way to prevent mosquito-borne disease is to avoid being bitten. Know how to prevent mosquito bites – cover up, repel, clean up.
How to prevent mosquito bites at home
Mosquitoes can breed around your home. They will lay their eggs in fresh or salty water and often in containers that hold water. Common breeding sites include pot plant drip trays, gutters, ponds, pet water bowls, old tyres, rubbish, containers and pools that are not well maintained. Know how to help to prevent mosquito breeding.
How to prevent mosquito bites on overseas holidays
In some countries mosquitoes can transmit serious and potentially fatal diseases such as dengue, malaria, chikungunya, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis.
It is important to visit your GP at least 6 weeks prior to travelling overseas to determine any health risks associated with your destination. In some cases it may be necessary to get vaccinated or start taking preventative medication before you leave. More information can be found on the Department of Health website.
Please consult the Department of Health for additional information relating to the management and control of mosquitoes.
Rats and Mice
The Shire Rodent Prevention and Control fact sheet and the Department of Health Facts on Rats brochure both have some useful information regarding rodents, however Environmental Health staff are also available to assist wherever possible and may be contacted on (08) 9071 0676.
Due to the toxic nature of termite chemicals, professional pest controllers should be contacted for the treatment of termites. A list of pest control businesses is included in the local Contractor Listing. More information on how to use pesticides safely is available from the Department of Health.
Shire Environmental Health staff can assist by inspecting affected areas and provide information where required.
For additional information or assistance contact Environmental Health Services on (08) 9071 0676, email email@example.com or call into the Shire Administration Centre on Windich Street.
- What can I do about bees and wasps?
If you have a bee or wasp nest/problem on your own property, contact one of the local pest control companies in the area and they'll sort it out for you. If the bee or wasp nest/problem is located on Shire of Esperance owned property (e.g. in a tree on the verge or a public building), contact the Shire Asset Management Department on (08) 9071 0637.
For more information on bees and wasps:
- The Department of Agriculture and Food Honeybee Swarms and Nests fact sheet
- European wasps are not native to Australia and are a pest. If you suspect you have a European Wasp nest contact the Department of Agriculture and Food on (08) 9083 1111. See their European Wasp fact sheet to help you identify a European Wasp nest
- Portuguese millipedes
Portuguese millipedes were first detected in Western Australia around Roleystone in 1986. Unfortunately, this introduced pest has now become established throughout Esperance, the metropolitan region and other areas in the southwest. They normally live outdoors where they feed on leaf litter, damp and decaying wood, fungus and vegetable matter.
Portuguese millipedes usually become highly active after the first rains. They are not harmful to animals or humans, but they can be a significant domestic nuisance when they invade homes and gardens in large numbers, usually in early autumn.
They are one of the few millipede species that are attracted to lights at night, and this is presumably why they invade homes. Different properties will be affected by these millipedes to greater or lesser degrees depending on varying situations.
As they are not harmful to public health the Shire does not have Local Laws requiring property owners to undertake treatment. Given their widespread distribution across the state it is also not practicable for the Shire to treat for these pests on Shire owned land. This is due to a number of factors including;
- Any chemical treatment will only have effectiveness for a limited time.
- It would take considerable time to treat the entire Shire of Esperance given its large size.
- It would be difficult to time the treatment to coincide with the first rains when the millipedes are most active given the time that would be required to undertake a treatment and the usual weather forecasts.
- As these millipedes generally only become active after the first rains it is difficult to determine if millipedes are present beforehand. Therefore undertaking a treatment program would likely involve areas where millipedes are not present having to be treated.
- The Shire would only be able to treat land which it owns or has control over, so millipede populations outside of this would remain untreated and would soon be able to recolonise Shire controlled land.
- Chemical treatment may have an adverse effect on other native fauna. Other insects would be also killed thereby affecting the food chain of larger animals.
- Treatment would be required to be undertaken on an ongoing basis.
- The cost of treatment would be severely high.
- The millipede problem whilst severe initially, usually dissipates quickly as winter approaches.
- This issue is statewide and not addressed by individual Councils. We are not aware of any other Council currently undertaking treatment for Portuguese millipedes.
Reducing the impact of Portuegese Millipedes
There are steps individual properties can take to reduce the effect of these pests. These include:
- turning off external lights and minimising the escape of light from inside through the use of curtains and blinds
- removing leaf litter from garden beds
- installing physical barriers
- using chemical barriers or using light traps to draw and capture the millipedes away from the residence.
Light traps offer a relatively simple, cheap and chemical free option to property owners. They can be as simple as burying a bucket at ground level away from the residence with a waterproof light suspended above it.
The millipedes are drawn to the light and captured in the bucket. We understand there is a commercial product along this theme called ‘millipede catcher’ and a web search should provide a list of stockists and information. Please note the Shire has not trialled this product and this is not an endorsement of it, but rather provided as an example of the principals of a light trap in action.
For additional information or assistance contact Environmental Health Services on (08) 9071 0676, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call into the Shire Administration Building on Windich Street.