'Noise' has many meanings but in the context of environmental management the term is synonymous with 'sound' or 'acoustic energy' and is taken to include mechanical vibration. However, 'noise' and 'sound' generally refer to acoustic energy in the atmosphere and 'vibration' refers to acoustic energy in condensed media such as the ground, water and built structures.
High levels of noise are generally considered to be unpleasant and can have health implications. Elevated levels of noise in a neighbourhood are consistent with reduced amenity and would be expected to lead to devaluations in property values. Given the option, people and animals tend to leave areas with high ambient noise levels.
In general, the level of noise emitted from a device or an activity can be controlled.
The legislative thrust, as presented in the Environment Protection Policy (Noise) 2009, is to protect those qualities of the acoustic environment that are conducive to the wellbeing of the community together with its social and economic amenity, and the wellbeing of the individual together with his or her health and opportunity to work, study, relax, sleep and converse without unreasonable interference from noise.