Neighbourhood noise & nuisance issues

Council staff cutting branches from overhanging tree

Managing neighbourhood issues

The Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 was developed to support and enhance our environment by strengthening local nuisance and litter management services within South Australian communities and to ensure environmental complaints are responded to efficiently.

The legislation will result in improved amenity, particularly reduced littering and illegal dumping, for towns, regions and cities throughout the state.

Under the Act, the Council is responsible for responding to community enquiries and complaints regarding local nuisances within the Council area. The Act also allows councils to consider granting exemptions upon application. 

Local nuisance is described in the Act as being any adverse impact on the amenity value of an area, which unreasonably interferes with, or is likely to unreasonably interfere with, the enjoyment of that area by people in that area.

Construction activities which generate significant levels of noise should only occur within the hours of 7 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday, unless they have an exemption (see noise exemptions). For more information, including a list of agencies and authorities that also regulate and monitor activities that impact the environment, visit the EPA website.

Report a neighbourhood noise or nuisance

To read the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016, visit the SA Legislation website

When does Council have authority?

Council can assist with some neighborhood issues. However, there are issues that may arise, that Council do not have authority over.

The Act specifies what can constitute a local nuisance and can therefore be investigated by Council.

Some common examples of activities that may be considered a local nuisance include:

  • Noise coming from domestic machines such as an air conditioner, compressor, swimming pool pump, lawnmower and power tools

  • Dust and noise from development and construction sites – building or maintenance and repair work

  • Smoky wood heaters

  • Noise coming from indoor venues or outdoor events.

  • Local nuisance within the community can also be caused by insanitary conditions such as filthy or neglected premises that present a risk of rodent infestation or emit offensive odours or material. 

What is exempt from Council authority?

Some examples include;

  • People noise including music and voices from domestic premises should be referred to SAPOL by calling 131 444

  • Activities involving liquor licensed premises should be referred to the Liquor Licensing Authority by calling 131 882

  • Noise from vehicles (other than vehicles operating within, or entering or leaving business premises)

  • Activities controlled by an Environment Protection Authority (EPA) SA licence should be referred to the EPA by calling (08) 204 2004

  • Noise or other nuisance from animals living in their natural habitat

  • Noise or other nuisance from sporting or associated activities at sporting venues

  • Noise associated with a school, kindergarten, child care centre or place of worship.

Noise Exemptions

The Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 allows the Council to consider the granting of an exemption from local nuisance-causing activities upon application.

Exemptions may be reasonable for short-term activities such as concerts, events or major construction activities, where some level of dust or other local nuisance is likely to be unavoidable.

Current exemptions - events

Exemption Authorisation Pursuant to Section 19 of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016

Event:  Cirque Du Soleil - LUZIA
Location: Adelaide Showground, Goodwood
Dates: 9 June – 7 July 2024
Further information: 8210 5211 (business hours) or email

Current exemptions - construction works 

No construction work exemptions are currently listed.


Exemption conditions

The Council can apply strict conditions to ensure that an applicant does everything reasonable to minimise the impact of the nuisance. An exemption by the Council may be unconditional or subject to conditions, including (but not limited to) conditions relating to the:

  • Permitted times or periods of time for carrying on the activity
  • Manner of carrying on the activity.
A declaration for exemption by the Council has effect from the date specified in the declaration and remains in force according to its terms for a period not exceeding 3 months, or until revoked by the council. The council may, by further notice in writing, vary or revoke a declaration it has made.


Apply for an exemption

Complete the Local Nuisance Exemption Application Form

If you are planning activities or an event in the City of Unley and wish to seek an exemption from Section 18 of the Act (Causing Local Nuisance) please complete the Local Nuisance Exemption Application and lodge it with the Council. You must also attach a Site Nuisance Management Plan.

Application for Exemption to Local Nuisance and Litter Act(PDF, 115KB)

Complete a Site Nuisance Management Plan

The Site Nuisance Management Plan must outline the steps that will be taken to prevent, minimise or address any adverse effects on the local area. The Plan should also demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist to justify the granting of an exemption.

The Site Nuisance Management Plan is contained within the Local Nuisance Exemption Application Form.



Burning in the open is a common practice to reduce the risk of bushfires, manage agricultural land and to dispose of agricultural and forestry wastes. People also use open fires to cook food, prepare beverages, for domestic heating and as part of recreational activities (eg campfires).

The Environment Protection Act 1993, section 25, states that, "A person must not undertake an activity that pollutes, or might pollute, the environment unless the person takes all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent or minimise any resulting environmental harm."

Smoke and odour from burning wood is a form of pollution and it may cause environmental harm. An authorised officer under the Act may issue an

expiration notice or an Environment Protection Order to achieve compliance with the general environmental duty. Penalties ranging from $300 to $60,000 may be applied.

More information about burning in the open visit the Environment Protection Authority.

Backyard burning

Burning rubbish or any other matter in a backyard incinerator or in the open is prohibited.

Clause 5 of the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 allows burning in the open within metropolitan Adelaide where it is for:

  • Preparation of food or beverages
  • Heating an outdoor area using a brazier, chiminea or fire pit – charcoal only fire prevention or control – requires council approval (this may be by individual permit or general notice published in a newspaper)
  • Disposal of agricultural or forestry waste – requires council approval (this may be by individual permit or by general notice published in a newspaper)
  • Other – requires council approval through written consent or general notice.

You can create a fire for cooking or heating only if you use dried, untreated and unpainted timber or dried garden prunings and do not cause a smoke or ash nuisance.

Penalties apply for breaches.

During the Fire Danger Season (on days when there is not a Total Fire Ban) the following additional requirements must be observed:

  • A 4m cleared space around and above the fire
  • A responsible and capable person in attendance at all times the fire is alight, with water or an extinguisher.

More information about burning in the open visit the Environment Protection Authority.

Wood heater smoke

Wood smoke contains many different chemicals, some of which are toxic to humans. When these chemicals are inhaled they cause health problems in young children and the elderly, particularly those with respiratory (breathing) and cardiovascular (heart) illnesses.

Domestic wood-burning heaters are one of the main sources of pollution affecting air quality in the Adelaide metropolitan area in winter—second only to motor vehicle emissions.

To gain the maximum efficiency from your wood heater or open fireplace and to help the local environment you should:

  • Only burn dry and seasoned wood. Seasoned logs should make a 'crack' when banged together not a dull thud
  • Keep air vents open for 20 minutes when starting and reloading the fire to ensure there is a vigorous flame
  • Keep the fire burning brightly but let it go out at night.

Most heaters burn better with three or four smaller logs rather than one or two large logs. Dry fuel maximises heat release during combustion. Sufficient air flow provides oxygen for complete combustion, mixes the air and hot combustion gases, to promote complete burning and provides time to allow complete burning.

If your heater is configured properly, leaving the air flow unrestricted overnight will result in the heater still being warm in the morning. If your house is well insulated it will stay warm, with minimal heat loss.

Find more information about effective use of a wood heater visit the Environment Protection Authority.



Fences less than 2.1m high on a common property boundary between neighbours are usually subject to the Fences Act 1975. Council has no jurisdiction over these types of fences with the exception of the following circumstances, where Development Approval should be sought if:

  • Any part of the fence will be made of masonry (brick, hebel, cast concrete etc) and will be 1m or more in height
  • Any part of the fence will be 2.1m or more in height but made of non-masonry construction (colorbond, iron sheeting, brush etc)
  • The proposed fence is more than 1m high and closer than 6m to a corner
  • The property is heritage listed (on either the State or Local Heritage Registers), is in a Heritage Conservation Zone or if it is in a Streetscape (Built Form) Zone
  • A fence that is (or is to be) a safety fence for a swimming pool which is approved for construction, or required approval for construction
  • A brush fence that is (or is to be) closer than 3 metres to an existing or proposed Class 1 or 2  building under the Building Code.

For more information on fence design in Historic Conservation and Streetscape (Built Form) Zones, and for heritage places, please refer to the Development guidelines.

Swimming Pools and Spas

Swimming pool and spa owners are responsible for ensuring that all pools or spas have suitable barriers or safety fencing that restricts access to the immediate pool or spa surrounds by young children.

Visit the South Australian Government website for information on pool and spa safety.

If a house with a swimming pool or spa is for sale, the childproof safety barriers must comply with the current Australian Standards for pool safety at the date of settlement.

For further information, please phone a member of the City of Unley's Development Team on 8372 5111.


Overhanging Foliage

Overhanging foliage is the responsibility of the owner of the plant or tree. The owner can be requested by the City of Unley to remove foliage if it is deemed to pose a danger to pedestrians or vehicles on Council land, ie on footpaths, or roads.

Please help keep Unley's streets safe and attractive by regularly checking trees and pruning them if they look like they may cause injury or damage.

For a general guide to trees and the law, download the Legal Services Commission's Trees and the Law booklet.

Contact us to report overhanging foliage

Pest, insects and other animal management

Advice on management of  common pests, insects and other animals. To learn what to do when dogs or cats cause a nuisance, visit the dog or cat complaints page.

Bats & Flying Foxes

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) says there are now more than 1,000 Grey-headed Flying-foxes in Adelaide's eastern suburbs.

It is believed that the Grey-headed Flying-foxes have travelled from western Victoria and the South East of South Australia, having been displaced from their original range in Queensland and New South Wales, probably due to habitat clearance and a critical lack of food.

DEW is working with other government and non-government agencies including the SA Museum and the University of South Australia on a plan to relocate the Grey-headed Flying-foxes from the site at Fullarton, so that they may resettle in a more appropriate area, where their impacts on properties and residents will not be so great.

If any of the sites where the Grey-headed Flying-foxes resettle are deemed inappropriate, then further efforts will be made to relocate them. It's important that any relocation efforts are done in a careful and coordinated manner to ensure that the Grey-headed Flying-foxes remain strong and healthy, so that when the time comes they are fit to travel back east.

Grey-headed Flying-foxes are considered threatened nationally, have experienced a serious decline in numbers in recent times and are a protected species in South Australia.

It is very important that members of the public do not attempt to disperse, frighten or harass Grey-headed Flying-foxes, because it may reduce the effectiveness of any coordinated relocation methods being used by DEW.

What should I do if I see a flying-fox?

If you see any flying-foxes, particularly if they are roosting in a particular location during the day, please call the Department of Environment and Water on 8204 1910 or email to report their location.

What should I do if I find an injured Flying-fox?

If you find a sick or injured Grey-headed Flying-fox or one trapped in fruit-netting, please do not touch it, but instead call the Fauna Rescue Bat Hotline, manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Phone 8486 1139.

All sick or stressed wild animals can scratch or bite when handled and a very low percentage of Grey-headed Flying-foxes carry diseases including Australian Bat Lyssavirus. There's no need to be frightened, but it's important to avoid physical contact with them.

What should I do if I get bitten or scratched by a flying-fox?

In the unlikely event you are bitten or scratched by a Grey-headed Flying-fox, or any other Australian bat species, you should immediately wash the wound thoroughly with warm soapy water for five minutes and then seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are irritating, blood-feeding insects that hide in cracks and crevices, coming out at night to feed. Bed bugs can unwittingly be carried into clean well-kept properties, just by the movement of second-hand furniture from an infested property. Once an area has become infested with bed bugs, they can be quite difficult to eradicate.

The adult bed bug is an oval insect, 5mm long by about 3mm wide. If the bed bug has not recently fed it is flat and red-brown in colour. Once it has taken a feed it changes to a dark mahogany colour and becomes more rounded.

Bed bugs are not known to carry disease. However their blood feeding may:

  • Cause severe irritation for some people
  • Result in lack of sleep and energy
  • Cause anaemia in children
  • Leave blackish spots on furnishings from their excreta.

In early infestations the bedbugs are found only in the seams and folds of mattresses and covers and later they spread to cracks and crevices in the bedsteads. If allowed to multiply, they establish themselves behind skirtings, window and door architraves, pictures and mouldings and in furniture, loosened wallpaper and cracks in plaster and partitions.


Maintain high levels of hygiene and housekeeping. Wash all bedding, curtains and clothing in hot water on a regular basis. Vacuum and steam clean carpets. Remove dust, fluff and debris from cracks, crevices, seams on mattress, etc.

In recent decades they have been quite uncommon, so if you can provide us with a sample we can ascertain that it is definitely a bed bug.

To eradicate the problem completely you will need professional help because they must be treated with a suitable insecticide. It may be necessary to remove carpets and furniture, architraves and ceiling roses and in severe cases wallpaper and skirting to ensure the insecticide reaches all areas. If possible, bedding materials including the mattress should be heat‑sterilised. If this is not possible, disposal may need to be an option. Some populations of bedbugs can be resistant to insecticides even after a thorough treatment.

For further information visit SA Health.


Bees on private property

If you find a swarm of bees on your property, you should call an apiarist. Contact Bee Keepers Society of SA for a list of ‘Swarm Removalists’  or a pest controller. Remember that most bees can sting, so it is best to stay away from them.

Swarming bees

During spring and the early months of summer, a colony of bees may leave its hive and establish another colony elsewhere. This is a natural instinct of the bees during which some of the bees from the existing colony will swarm out to find a new home. When the bees have found a suitable site, they will begin building a new hive.

Swarming bees are generally not inclined to sting providing they are left alone. It is advisable to vacate the area (if possible) until the swarm has settled. Watch for foraging bees flying to and from the area and be sure to wear protective footwear to protect your feet from bees that have landed on the ground.

Do not attempt to remove a swarm by throwing rocks at it, dousing it with a hose or discharging a firearm. These actions are likely to aggravate the bees and encourage them to defend their hive. Often bees that clump together on a tree or fence may take off in a couple of days. If they have found a home in a tree hollow or wall cavity, then assistance will be required to remove them.

Keeping Bees

The City of Unley supports the keeping of bees for non-commercial purposes and understands the important environmental value and role that bees play in any healthy ecosystem.    There have been a small number of instances reported where the keeping of bees has become a potential nuisance to neighbouring properties. For this reason, Council recommends to all residents that if they wish to keep bees for non-commercial purposes, they first consult PIRSA and comply with any requirements they may have for the safe keeping of bees.

European Wasps

If you find a nest it is important that you do not disturb it. Please contact the City of Unley to report it for removal by phoning 8372 5111.

European Wasp nests are constructed of grey material similar to papier-mâché. Nests constructed of mud are not made by European Wasps. European Wasps can scavenge for food up to 500m from their nest.

Nests may be located in retaining walls, tree hollows, wall cavities or underground.

To locate the nest you can attract the wasps by placing meat or pet food where you can see it and note the direction the wasp flies once it has collected the food.

European Wasps look similar to bees but are distinguishable by their bright yellow legs, triangular markings on their abdomens and they fold their wings back when they rest.


It is not unusual to find foxes in suburban areas. Foxes in the Unley area periodically cause significant problems for householders and their animals. For information about controlling foxes visit the Natural Resource Management Board.

Pets and domestic animals are susceptible to fox attack

Poultry, rabbits and guinea pigs should be housed in a sturdy, roofed enclosure at night or when left unattended during the day. Foxes can be very determined so cages should be fully enclosed and made from material that they cannot chew through or dig under. As a general principle, if a cat is able to gain access to an enclosure, then a fox can too.

For further information, please contact the Sustainable Landscapes Officer at the Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board on 8273 9100 or email

Fruit Fly

To report finding maggots in any fruits or vegetables please phone the Fruit Fly Hotline on 1300 666 010.

South Australia is free of fruit fly, which enables South Australian producers of fruit and vegetables to sell to markets around the world. Strict quarantine regulations to protect South Australia make it illegal to bring fruit and vegetables into South Australia from other states.

If an outbreak occurs, we will work in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia to inform local residents and businesses about the outbreak and the necessary eradication program.


Mosquitoes breed in still water and primarily during the summer months.

The best way to control mosquitoes is to remove the places where they can breed. Removing all opportunities for water to collect and remain undisturbed is the best place to start. Some things to consider include:

  • Removing all discarded tins, jars, tyres and other rubbish items left outside that may hold water
  • Putting sand around the bases of pot plants to absorb water in each dish
  • Fitting fine, insect-proof screens on all windows, doors and ventilation openings of your house
  • Screening all openings to tanks, wells or other large water containers with wire gauze no coarser than 1mm mesh
  • Keeping roof gutters in good repair and regularly remove leaves and debris so that pools do not form and trim trees to prevent leaves and debris from blocking roof gutters
  • Keeping fishponds and ornamental ponds stocked with goldfish and native Australian fish
  • Keeping swimming pools or wading pools chlorinated
  • Drilling holes in tyres used for swings and garden surrounds to allow water to drain from them
  • Regularly changing water in birdbaths and pet drinking dishes
  • Keeping all open drains and channels free from obstructions, especially weeds, grass and other debris
  • Keeping boats, canoes and dinghies overturned or with the drain plug removed
  • Repair leaking taps.

Mosquitoes can also breed in containers or tanks used to store stormwater, grey water and rainwater. Containers should be emptied, fitted with a well sealing lid, or openings covered with mosquito-proof mesh. If mosquito larvae ('wrigglers') are present then screen or close-off the point of entry. Do not allow water to pool in containers below the outlets or taps.

As a last resort, rainwater tanks can be treated by adding a small amount of liquid paraffin or domestic kerosene. Do not apply kerosene if water levels are low.

Add 5ml of kerosene or one teaspoon for a 1 kilolitre tank – up to 15ml or three teaspoons for a 10 kilolitre tank. When using paraffin, double the dose. Consult your rainwater tank manufacturer about whether kerosene can be used.

To avoid bites, you should:

  • Wear long, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) or picaridin on exposed skin (always read and follow label instructions and avoid use around babies and toddlers)
  • Cover sleeping areas with mosquito nets
  • Avoid going outside when mosquitoes are most active
  • When camping, avoid areas near creeks, waterholes or in long grass.

SA Health offers resources regarding protection against and control of mosquitoes. View Fight the Bite resources here.


Many of the problems caused by pigeons constitute a nuisance, rather than a direct threat to public health. The feral pigeon is a descendant of the domestic homing pigeon, has easily adapted to the urban environment and continues to prosper.

Health Concerns

The problems presented by pigeons generally constitute a nuisance rather than a direct threat to public health, as the risk of transmission of disease is dependent on the nature of contact with birds and their faeces. Where there is no direct contact with the birds or their faeces, the relative risk of contracting illnesses is deemed to be low.

In relation to concerns regarding potential contamination of rainwater tanks by pigeon faeces, the Department of Health recommends the use of first flush devices. First flush devices prevent the first portion of roof run-off from being collected and will reduce the amounts of dust, bird droppings, leaves and other accumulated debris from being washed into tanks. Alternatively, the tank inlet could be disconnected so that the first run-off of rain after a dry spell is not collected.


Pigeons are able to roost on very narrow ledges, beams and roof lines. In the urban environment, building facades, roofs and bridges provide plenty of roosting options and human activity provides a variety of food sources. In the Unley area, there are intermittent reports of problems caused by uncontrolled and unowned pigeon flocks.

In large numbers, pigeons damage buildings due to the acidic nature of their faeces. Feathers, eggs and dead birds also foul the environment and buildings, sometimes blocking gutters which can lead to flooding in rain events.

Consequently, just as there is a need to control rat and mice numbers, it is equally important to control the feral pigeon population. No single method of control offers the ultimate solution, but rather a combination of methods, with the responsibility having to be shared by the Council, industry, businesses and residents.

In order to assist with the control of pigeon numbers, there needs to be a reduction in available food sources and nesting or roosting sites, and pigeon-proofing buildings. In cases where there is an established population, trapping or culling are also options. In these cases, you are advised to use a licensed pest controller.

Some businesses, as well as the Council, have already undertaken extensive pigeon‑proofing of their buildings by using spikes and fine wires. These deterrents are effective in reducing the number of birds able to land and roost on building ledges, window sills and roof tops. Along with this, new building work should also consider designs that do not provide roosting points and ledges for the birds.

The use of poison baits is not recommended as it is impossible to target just pigeons without affecting other birds.

For further information, please phone 8372 5111 or your licensed pest controller.


All possums are protected animals in South Australia. In accordance with the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, it is an offence to handle or interfere with any native animal without a permit. This offence carries a minimum $2,500 fine or an imprisonment term of six months.

If you require a permit, you may make application to your local ranger from the Department of Water and Environment by:

  • Phoning 8278 5477 if you are in Blackforest or Goodwood
  • Phoning 8336 0901 for any other suburb within the City of Unley.

Please keep in mind that capturing possums can cause harm and distress to the animal if the trap is not managed properly. You must consider how much time the possum will spend in the trap, protection of the possum from any predators while trapped and also from environmental effects such as dehydration.

The possum must be released on the same property within 50m of the site of capture. You should release the possum after dusk and ensure that all reasonable steps to protect the possum from injury or predation by other animals are taken.

Trapping and releasing possums without possum-proofing your building will not solve the problem.

Further information on possums is available from Department for Environment and Water.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are found everywhere there is human activity and can be a significant public health problem if not controlled.

In suburban areas it is important to minimise the impacts that rats and mice may have on your property as well as neighbouring properties. You can control conditions on your property across four key areas to reduce the nuisance of rats and mice and decrease the likelihood that they will take up residence. 

Roof Space

  • Ensure all roof tiles, shingles or iron is maintained
  • Ensure access into roof space cavities is not available from the gutters
  • Prune or remove any tree branches which touch or significantly overhang the roof or gutters
  • Prune or remove any vines or ivy growth such that it does not encroach on downpipes, gutters or overhead wiring.

Control Access

  • Remove dense vegetation and other material from around ground floor walls which may screen access points
  • Provide screening, such as metal flywire, over any ventilation bricks and ensure that the bricks soundly fitted and not defective
  • Ensure any outside entrances to cellars and light wells are clear of debris
  • Ensure all breach points of the walls and roof are correctly finished and rodent proof, including any points where water, gas, telephone and electrical conduits or similar infrastructure enter the building.

Reduce Harbourage and Shelter

  • Regularly check all outbuildings on your property to ensure materials stored do not provide harbourage
  • Stack firewood and lengths of timber on elevated platforms away from fences and walls
  • Remove any old mattresses, sacks, carpets and similar items from sheds
  • Prevent any materials stored in the rafters of outbuildings from providing surfaces where rodents can nest. 

Control Outdoor Food Sources

  • Fit metal collars to fruit trees to prevent rodents climbing to gain access
  • Harvest fruit regularly and quickly gather any windfalls, disposing of any excess or unwanted fruits correctly
  • Prevent access to pet food and bird feeders
  • Store any pet food and bird feed in rodent proof containers, such as metal containers with heavy or tight fitting lids.

If the problem you have appears to be significant, it is recommended that you engage a licensed pest controller. To find more information visit SA Health.


Snakes are protected. You should not disturb, harm or destroy a snake unless it is attacking a person or animal.

If you find a snake in your yard, please contact:

If you require further information, visit Department for Environment and Water.


Flying Drones

The rise of drone technology has seen an increase in the number of drones or remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) for both recreational and commercial purposes.

Australia’s safety laws for RPAs are governed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and is broken into two categories - flying commercially or recreationally.

Commercial flying

If you are flying a RPA which weighs over 2kg for economic gain, you need to have an RPA Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) from CASA.

If your RPA weighs less than two kilograms a certificate is not required, however you do need to notify CASA.

Under both circumstances, you need to follow CASA’s standard operating conditions and safety rules.

Recreational flying

If you are flying for fun and not for economic gain, then the regulations are less restrictive. You do not need to be certified, providing you follow some simple safety rules.


If you are concerned about drones and your privacy, you can contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner for more information or phone 1300 363 992.


 CASA’s regulations address issues that arise if a RPA is being operated in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, another person or property.

If you wish to report unsafe drone operations, please complete the CASA online complaint form.