Environmental nuisance complaints

1. Overview

The Shire’s Environmental Health Team is responsible under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act for investigating environmental issues that are impacting on the health of local residents. This can include a range of issues which are described below.

If you are concerned that your health may be affected by any of these issues please contact us.  

2. Residential Noise

If you have a problem with noise from your neighbours, we suggest that you refer to the EPA website which offers advice and solutions to residential, commercial and vehicle noise issues. This details the rights and responsibilities of home owners in relation to state legislation about noise. This document also specifies the prohibited times for noisy equipment used on residential premises.

Noise issues are often resolved by talking with your neighbour directly and working together to find a solution. In many cases, people are not aware they are making noise that may be disturbing their neighbours. A Shire Ranger or Environmental Health Officer can provide education to both parties during this process on strategies for reducing noise if required.  

If a resolution is not reached after speaking with your neighbour, you can lodge an official complaint with the Council’s Environment Protection Unit. To lodge a complaint please contact us.

Alternatively The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) is a free dispute resolution service which routinely helps resolve common neighbourhood disputes involving noise,  fences, trees, animals and drainage.

If the noise is occurring after hours and is coming from people or parties, the Police should be contacted at the time of offence.

Further Information:

3. Asbestos 

Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous silicate minerals which occur naturally in the environment. Asbestos was commonly used in many building materials before the early 1980s because of its durability, fire resistance and excellent insulating properties.

Generally, the presence of asbestos in home building products does not pose a risk to health unless the asbestos is disturbed, which then produces hazardous fibres or dust containing asbestos particles.

Some people have developed asbestos-related lung disease after inhaling asbestos fibres. The level of exposure that causes health effects is not known so exposure to asbestos fibres or dust containing asbestos fibres should always be kept to a minimum. Special precautions must be taken to reduce exposure to asbestos dust and fibres during its removal.

Further information on asbestos may be obtained from the Asbestos Victoria website.

Any asbestos removal on commercial building sites or conducted by building contractors must be carried out by an asbestos removalist contractor that is licensed with the Victorian Workcover Authority, Worksafe.

If you have any concerns regarding the removal of asbestos on commercial sites or carried out by building contractors, please contact Worksafe on: (03) 9641 1555.

Asbestos Removal

  • It is not advisable for residents to do the work themselves when removing loosely bound asbestos–containing materials (i.e., insulation) due to the increased health risk. In this case arrange for a Worksafe licensed asbestos removalist to remove the asbestos.
  • For more information on removing asbestos visit the Worksafe website.  
  • Residents who remove asbestos from their own property must take particular care to protect themselves and neighbouring properties from any health risks.
  • Removal of asbestos must meet the requirements detailed on the Asbestos Victoria website.
  • If you have any concerns regarding the handling or removal of asbestos by a neighbouring property owner please visit our section on Asbestos Disposal or contact us.

4. Agricultural Spraydrift

The Shire has many agricultural businesses, vineyards and golf courses which rely on the spraying of pesticide and herbicide chemicals. While improvements in technology have reduced the risks from chemical spraying, the Shire does receive queries regarding these chemicals affecting neighbouring properties.

If the chemicals are alleged to be affecting crops or livestock on neighbouring properties, the query will be referred to the Agriculture Victoria for investigation.

If the chemicals are alleged to be affecting the health of residents on neighbouring properties, the Shire’s Environmental Health Team will investigate the matter in conjunction with Worksafe and the Environment Protection Authority.

If you have any concerns regarding chemical spray drift affecting your property please contact us.

More information on chemical spraying is available from Agriculture Victoria.

5. Airservices Australia - aircraft and airport noise

Air Services Australia met with Councillors, Shire Officers and members of the Peninsula Aero Club (PAC) and the Tyabb Rate Payers Association (TRPA) in a discussion about the airfield and surrounding environs.  It was agreed by all parties that all concerns about operational issues surrounding Tyabb Airfield should be directed to Airservices Australia to investigate.

The Shire is seeking your assistance and request that you lodge any concerns in relationship to noise or any other operational issue at Tyabb Airfield with Airservices Australia. This will assist in the gathering of data about the operation of Tyabb Airfield.  Airservices Australia will analyse the data collected and make reports to the Mornington Peninsula Shire.  The reports will help inform Council decisions relating to Tyabb Airfield.

To make a complaint please direct your concerns to Airservices Noise Complaints and Information Service.

You can lodge your compliant at Airservices Australiaby calling 1800 802 584 (free call) or by post to: Noise Complaints and Information Services, PO Box 211, Mascot NSW 1460.

The Air Services Australia website provides more details on their complaints investigation procedures.

The Shire is committed to working with Federal and State authorities like Airservices Australia, Civil Aviation Authority Australia (CASA), the Civil Aviation Authority Australia, Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and our community including the PAC and TRPA to develop policy that helps facilitate positive relationships.

6. Pest Control

The Shire’s Environmental Health Team provide the following advice on pest control issues:

Feral rats and mice are very adaptable public health pests. They are not fussy
eaters and can make themselves at home in houses, sheds, garages and
gardens. As well as causing unpleasant odours and damage to property and possessions, feral rodents can also pose a risk to human health

Concerns

Introduced rodents can:

  • Carry diseases such as leptospirosis and typhus fever.
  • Contaminate food with their hair, droppings and urine, resulting in food poisoning and spoilage.
  • Generate unpleasant odours.
  • Carry fleas or ticks which can harm pets or humans.
  • Damage materials such as food containers, wood, particle board, insulation and wiring through gnawing.

Types of rodents

Native Australian rodents (for example Bush Rat and Hopping Mice) pose little or no threat to public health and should be left alone as they are protected species. However, introduced rodents may infest residential and agricultural areas and carry disease. The common feral rodents are:

  • Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
  • Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
  • House Mouse (Mus musculus).

These pests will eat rubbish, pet food, food scraps, composts, fallen fruit and nuts, bird seed and dog faeces. Rats will travel up to several house blocks to find water and food.

Rats

Grey, brown or black in colour and larger than mice, reaching up to 25cm in
body length and 400g in weight.

Mice

White, grey, brown or black and much smaller than rats. They reach up to 10cm in body length and are generally no more than 30g in weight.

Where they live:

Rats and mice will shelter and nest in places such as homes, sheds, garages and gardens, particularly:

  • in walls, ceilings and under floors
  • behind or under cupboards or bathtubs
  • behind boxes, machinery and furniture  
  • in rubbish heaps, wood piles, thick vegetation, animal enclosures, paper or cloth
  • in holes under buildings.

Recognising rodent activity

Rodents are generally more active at night and are more common in late summer/early autumn. If you see rats or mice during the day, this usually indicates high numbers or that there is a good food supply nearby.

When inspecting for rat and mouse activity, look for:

  • Black, moist, thin droppings.  
  • Debris left from rodents gnawing items like snail shells, almond shells and chop bones.
  • Food left for pets which has gone missing.
  • Signs of gnawing damage on fruit, and vegetables or materials such as wood, insulation and electrical cabling.
  • ‘Runways’ which have formed when rodents have used the same path such as through vegetation/gardens or along fences.
  • Greasy rub marks on walls or skirting boards where rodents travel regularly.
  • Burrow holes close to sheds or under debris.

Avoiding rodent problems

Rodents are well adapted to living in human environments. To reduce their
numbers on your property: 

  • Dispose of food scraps promptly and clean food preparation areas thoroughly.
  • Inspect living and working areas for potential rodent entrances and block
    them where possible with concrete, hard setting filler, steel wool or heavy gauge sheet metal.
  • Ensure rubbish bins have tight-fitting lids and are regularly emptied.
  • Keep your home and property clear of rubbish.
  • Keep stacked materials such as wood and bricks at least 30cm above the ground to minimise hiding / nesting / thoroughfare of rats and mice.
  • Regularly clean out sheds, storage areas and dispose of unwanted items.
  • Remove unwanted undergrowth – cut back grass, trees, bushes, and creepers which may provide cover or access to the roof.
  • Dispose of fallen fruit, seed and waste from aviaries and chicken pens and pet faeces.
  • Do not use open compost heaps.
  • Do not compost any animal products (fish, meat, chicken, cheese, butter) or pet faeces.
  • Leave out just enough pet food for pets to eat soon after it is placed there.
  • Store poultry food in vermin proof containers with close-fitting lids.
  • Keep Chicken and other poultry coups clean, tidy and well maintained.
  • Block access points to cupboards containing food and food-preparation utensils.
  • Cover rainwater tank openings and floor vents with wire mesh no coarser than 1mm and check and maintain these regularly.

Protecting yourself

If rodents are present:

  • secure all foodstuffs in sealed containers
  • throw away food or drink that may have come into contact with rodents
  • wash cookware and cutlery in warm water and detergent before use
  • wash hands thoroughly before preparing food, eating, drinking or smoking
  • wear shoes and do not lie or sleep on areas where rodents have been active. If you are bitten by a rat or mouse, consult your doctor promptly.

Chemical control

Chemical control should only be considered as part of a broader control program of eliminating food sources and rodent harbourage. Chemical control is
generally short-term and rodents will return if food and shelter are still available.

Rat poisons or rodenticides containing an anti-coagulant can be purchased from hardware stores or supermarkets. 

If you have questions regarding chemical control measures or are uncomfortable using chemical baits, contact a licensed pest control operator.

Things to consider

Chemical control may not be appropriate in all situations. Before using poison, consider the following:

  • If rodents die and decay in hard to reach places, they may cause an offensive odour.
  • Pets and children may eat toxic baits or poisoned rodent bodies.
  • Some individuals are sensitive to rodent control chemicals in their environment.

Warning

Extreme care must be taken when storing and using poisons (read instructions carefully) to prevent the danger of children or pets being accidentally poisoned

Trapping

Mouse and rat traps differ in size and strength. It is important that the type of rodent is identified, and the proper trap used. Traps can be purchased from hardware stores or supermarkets.

Tips

Some tips for setting traps:

  • Several traps should be used at one time.
  • Do not set traps near food preparation areas.
  • Place across ’runways’ for a few days before setting to allow rodents to get used to the traps.
  • Traps can be successfully set with bacon, peanut butter, fish, meat, bread or chocolate.
  • Check traps daily; remove any dead rodents and refresh the bait.
  • Use an insecticidal surface spray around the immediate area to kill any fleas which may leave a trapped rodent’s body.

Disposal of dead rodents

Dead rodents should be carefully removed from areas where pets or native animals may access them.

Dead rodents can be buried or wrapped and placed into a domestic rubbish bin. Gloves should be worn when handling wild rodents.  

Remember to wash your hands with warm water and soap immediately after handling any dead rodents.

Legislation

Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. A rodent infestation could be determined as a nuisance as defined within this legislation and if upon investigation by Shire officers that a rodent infestation and a public health nuisance exists then the Shire Officers can take action against the occupier or owner of the land or premises where the infestation exists to remedy the rodent infestation and the public health nuisance.

Food Act 1984. Under this legislation and the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code 3.2.2 Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, food premises must take all practicable measures to prevent pests entering and they must take all reasonable measures to prevent the harbourage of pests on the premises. Rats and mice would be included in the definition of pests.

Council involvement

Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and The Food Act 1984, it is the responsibility of owners and occupiers of premises to prevent rodents from living and breeding on their property and food premises.

Your local council can provide advice on pest control.

Councils can investigate rodent infestations following complaints, upon finding evidence of rodent infestation or conditions likely to attract them, may enforce a clean-up of possible food sources and nesting sites and suitable treatment.

Lodging complaints:

If you have concerns it is recommended to contact you neighbour first then Council's Health Team if you have ongoing issues with rodents on neighbouring properties 

Further Information:

For further information please contact us.

7. Poultry Farm Issues

There are currently seventy-two broiler farms within the municipality of Mornington Peninsula Shire with 222 sheds capable of an output of seven million birds each batch.

The Shire’s Environmental Health Team investigates complaints regarding offensive odours and noise from poultry farms under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

If you have concerns regarding offensive odours from a local poultry farm please contact us.

For further information on poultry farms please visit the Agriculture Victoria website.