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In most jurisdictions around the world, noise is regulated by either the allowable level, or by the times in which it may be generated. In practice, an acceptable noise amenity is usually achieved by a combination of the two. It is however the enforcement of these noise regulations that generally experiences the biggest variability. Ostensibly, some jurisdictions have stringent noise limits, but fail to ever enforce them, whilst others with more liberal restrictions strictly impose them. This paper examines the regulatory regime in NSW, Australia including the noise guidelines that have been developed, and how they are enforced. Principally, the responsibility for regulating noise in NSW is shared between the State Government agencies of the Department of Planning and Environment and the Environment Protection Authority, and local government as represented by City and Shire Councils. The focus of this review is however on the major projects that are regulated by the State Government, and which are within both the authors responsibility and expertise. Such projects typically include proposals for new, or modifications to existing major road and rail infrastructure, mines, wind farms, port facilities and industrial sites. Airport noise is one of the few areas that are regulated at a Federal level by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, and is therefore also outside the scope of this review. An overview of the overarching objectives and strategies is given, as is a summary of the assessment, approval and subsequent compliance processes including the issuing of Conditions of Approval and Environmental Protection Licences. Where projects cannot meet noise objectives, there is still a process by which projects which have other significant merits may be still approved, subject to voluntary noise mitigation and acquisition agreements or other feasible and reasonable undertakings. In cases where projects have legacy noise issues, or there has been encroachment of noise sensitive developments onto existing noisy facilities, there exists a process for moving towards achieving an acceptable noise amenity level through the implementation of a Pollution Reduction Program. The road and rail infrastructure agencies in NSW also operate retrofit Noise Abatement Programs which seek to address noise issues that have occurred incrementally over time. Finally, whilst it is not possible to easily provide a relative assessment of how well various jurisdictions enforce their regulations, there is a comparison of some of the more common noise regulations from a range of countries.
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