Environmental Health and Nuisances Environmental Health and Nuisances

We all want Weipa to remain a nice place to live, work and visit. To achieve this, we have to be mindful of environmental nuisances that can impact our quality of life. Some of these nuisances are the responsibility of Weipa Town Authority (WTA), while others are not.

Nuisances which are not WTA's responsibility

Some nuisances are regulated by other government agencies, including:

  • Noise, light, dust and odour nuisances from commercial or industrial activities (including those which have an environmental licence). These are regulated by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP). To contact DEHP click here or phone 1300 130 372. 
  • Noise from music, parties, and vehicles (including quad bikes and motorbikes). These are regulated by the Queensland Police Service (QPS). To contact the QPS, phone 07 4090 6000 or Policelink on 131 444. 
  • All other vehicle nuisances including driving cars, quads or motorbikes on roads, green belts or public land are regulated by the Queensland Police Service. To contact the QPS, call 07 4090 6000 or contact Policelink on 131 444. In an emergency, contact 000.
  • Noise from licensed premises. This is regulated by the Department of Justice and Attorney General. To lodge a complaint, you must complete an online form from the DJAG website.  You may also wish to contact the QPS in Weipa on (07) 4090 6000.

Nuisances which are WTA's responsibility

WTA is responsible for investigating nuisances and enforcing the Environmental Protection Act 1996. This legislation deals with a number of environmental nuisances, including:

  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Light
  • Odour
  • Air issues (including smoke, ash, aerosols, fumes and particles) 
  • Other factors that can affect our quality of life.

Noise nuisances 

There are legal limits on the amount and type of noise made in our community, as well as restrictions on the times noise can be made. These laws try to provide a balance between the protection of our quality of life, and the reasonable pursuit of activities that have the potential to annoy others.

WTA regulates excessive noise including:

  • Air-conditioning units 
  • Amplifiers (e.g. loudhailers) 
  • Power boat engines (on land) 
  • Pumps including pool and spa pumps 
  • Regulated devices including motor mowers, leaf blowers, power tools etc. 
  • Building works 
  • Refrigeration activities 

Exemptions

The Environmental Protection Act 1994 provides exemptions for noise created from traffic signals, railway signals and road noise.

Other local government activity exemptions include:

  • Road maintenance
  • Maintaining water and sewage services
  • Preventing or removing public health risks

Light nuisances

Lighting is often important in urban areas for safety reasons, but excessive lighting from office buildings, or security lighting in residential or commercial areas can be a nuisance for some people.

WTA is responsible for regulating nuisance light emissions from residential premises and most commercial/industrial premises. Please note that the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection regulates nuisance light emissions from premises holding a licence with the DEHP. 

Dust, smoke or odour nuisances

The Environmental Protection laws also cover other unreasonable releases of various emissions, including dust, smoke, fumes and odour. Examples include:

  • Smoke or ash from burning off waste 
  • Aerosols from paint cans and other fine mists 
  • Fumes from petrol or diesel 
  • Dust from construction works 
  • Odour from composting or accumulated rubbish. 

We use the following criteria when investigating these nuisance complaints:

  • Time of release 
  • How long the release lasts 
  • The environmental values of the area 
  • The impact on the environment 
  • The views of the complainants. 

Exemptions:

Smoke, odour or fumes emitted from residential cooking are exempt from nuisance legislation.

Minor water contamination

Minor water contamination includes the release or deposit of contaminants such as chemicals, oil, building waste, waste water, glass, metal or paper into rivers, lakes, streams, roadside gutters or stormwater drainage. Such contaminants can damage or destroy Weipa’s beautiful waterways and beaches.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, WTA is responsible for investigating such incidences. On-the-spot-fines can be issued to anyone found depositing or releasing such contaminants.

Clean building sites

Water contamination poses a serious impact on the environment. Builders and developers have obligations to prevent the deposit or release of sand, sediment, silt, rubbish or building materials into gutters, stormwater drains and waterways from building sites.

To meet their obligations, builders and developers are required to:

  • Install and maintain sediment fences to control runoff 
  • Place gravel sausages to reduce material entering stormwater drains 
  • Have waste containers available 
  • Build waste containers on site by using geotextiles and rope to enclose waste 
  • Empty waste containers and clear other waste storages on a regular basis 
     

Some common building site deficiencies include:

  • Not having a stabilised entry/exit point established
  • Unnecessary site disturbance (such as parking or driving on exposed soil) 
  • Failure to divert upslope water 
  • Failure to install sediment controls such as sediment fences or turf strips 
  • Delays in connecting downpipes to stormwater drains 
  • Incorrect sitting of stockpiles 
  • Failure to install and/or maintain adequate drop inlet sediment traps. 

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, WTA is responsible for investigating such incidences. On-the-spot-fines can be issued to anyone that allows the runoff of sand, sediment, silt, rubbish or building materials into gutters, stormwater drains and waterways.

Making a complaint

If you have a nuisance issue with a neighbour, we recommend that you first discuss all possible options for resolving the problem with your neighbour.

If this isn’t possible or practical, please contact WTA on 07 4030 9400 to discuss your concerns. 

If you wish WTA to progress your complaint, you will be required to supply us with certain information, including your contact details. Anonymous complaints cannot be taken or investigated. 

Your complaint will then be directed to a member of WTA’s Communities Department to investigate. Complaints to WTA are strictly confidential and we will never release a complainant’s details.

If you require further information or advice, feel free to contact us during business hours on 07 4030 9400.

Environmental protection & management

Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs)

From 31 March 2013, the Queensland State Government simplified some licensing procedures for environmentally relevant activities (ERAs). 

These changes ensure that many businesses don’t need to hold an environmental authority with WTA, although they will still need to comply with the standards.

In most cases WTA officers are still responsible for investigating pollution incidents and environmental nuisance (e.g. noise from a factory).

The following table shows prescribed ERAs that WTA regulate under the Environmental Protection Act 1994:

ERA Number  ERA Description
Asphalt manufacturing >1,000 tonnes per year
12   Plastic Product Manufacturing
19  Metal Forming >10,000 tonnes per year
20(1) Metal recovery less than 100 tonnes of metal in a day
20(2) (a) Metal recovery – >100 tonnes per day or >1,000 tonnes per year
38 (1) (a)  Surface coating to anodizing, electroplating, enameling or galvanizing using 1-100 tonnes of surface coating materials in a year.
49  Boat maintenance or repair with 50m of a bed of naturally occurring surface waters.
61 (1)  Waste incineration for waste vegetation, clean paper or cardboard.

 

To operate one of the above activities, please contact WTA on 07 4030 9400 well before commencing the activity. The approval process for these activities takes over 30 business days, and it is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to operate the activity without an Environmental Authority (approval) from WTA.

Other ERAs

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) is responsible for approving and regulating a large number of ERAs under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. 

For information about licenses and approvals required by DEHP, please call 13 74 68 or click here.

Public health

A Public health risk can be anything that is, or likely to be hazardous to human health, or something that contributes to, or is likely to contribute to disease in humans or the transmission of an infectious condition to humans. 

WTA only has jurisdiction to act on certain public health risk issues described under the Public Health Act 2005. We share the responsibility for public health risks with other Government bodies.  

Examples of public health risks that WTA regulates include:

  • Rats and mice;
  • Mosquitoes (vectors) 
  • Asbestos (homeowners, occupants or owner-builders only).  

Examples of public health risks that WTA cannot regulate include:

  • Handling, removal and transportation of asbestos material by a business or contractor. Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office. Phone: 1300 369 915.
  • Mould. Queensland Health, Tropical Public Health Services Cairns. Phone: 07 4226 5555.
  • Rainwater tanks, Queensland Health, Tropical Public Health Services Cairns. Phone: 07 4226 5555.

Public health risk complaints

The information below is designed to help residents reduce public health risks and comply with requirements of the Act.  

In the event of an issue or concern, first attempt to discuss the issue with the person responsible for the nuisance. Make sure you give them an appropriate time frame to do something about it.  

If the situation hasn't changed after some time, it may be necessary to contact the appropriate authority.  

Asbestos

If you believe a homeowner, occupant or owner-builder is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material, or a person has illegally dumped asbestos waste, please contact WTA on 4030 9400.  

If you believe a business or contractor is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material please phone the Queensland Department of Justice and the Attorney-General (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland) on 1300 369 915.  

Further information can be found on the Queensland Health website.

Infestations by rats and mice

The Public Health Act 2005 allows WTA to investigate and regulate complaints regarding infestations of rats and mice (including the harboring of rats and mice).

If you have a complaint about a property, please contact WTA on 07 4030 9400. Your complaint will be handled confidentially, but you will be required to provide identifying information. 

Pests and weeds

For information on declared pest plants and weeds, please visit the Biosecurity Queensland website.

Personal appearance services

Personal appearance services include beauty therapy, body piercing, hairdressing and skin penetration services (tattooing, scarring and implanting substances). 

Businesses that provide higher risk personal appearance services need a licence from WTA.

When you need a licence

Generally, a licence is needed to conduct higher risk personal appearance services which may involve the release of blood or other bodily fluid.

Examples of higher risk activities that require a licence include:

  • Body piercing (not including ear and nose piercing with a gun)
  • Implanting natural or synthetic substances into a person's skin (for example hair or beads)
  • Scarring or cutting a person's skin using a sharp instrument to make a permanent mark, pattern or design
  • Tattooing

Services that do not need a licence include:

  • Ear and nose piercing (with a gun)
  • Hairdressing
  • Beautician services (waxing, nail sculpting/enhancing, electrolysis, application of cosmetics and treatments)
  • Medical treatments that involve penetration of the skin. These include: medical practitioners and persons acting under their direction, dentists and persons acting under their direction, acupuncturists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, registered nurses and anyone administering injections as part of a required medical treatment.

For further information, please refer to the appropriate Queensland Health website by clicking here.