Council's role in controlling noise

Noise in the environment (including domestic noise) is subject to the Resource Management Act 1991 which gives councils the power to control noise in their cities or districts.

Under the Act, we are able to include specific controls in our District Plans setting boundary noise levels between zones designated for specific uses. For example, an Industrial Zone which shares a boundary with a Residential Zone may have a noise level set at a lower 55 A-weighted decibels (DBA).

In rural districts, councils often set other conditions that 'protect' a commercial activity - for example, allowing farmers to bale hay without a noise restriction as the activity is weather-limited and the farmer needs to get it in as soon as possible. Fortunately, the adjacent landowners are usually aware of such impacts and don't complain as it is a seasonal imperative for the farmer.

Waitaki District Council has in the past carried out noise level surveys across the district to assess existing 'background' levels and these have been used to determine the kind of controls that should be incorporated into the District Plan rules. If you are building a helicopter pad, or a skateboard park, for example, you would evaluate the various impacted parties and look at where you fit in the District Plan. Whatever the industrial or commercial process, those involved in generating the noise need to be aware of how they will impact their neighbours.