Council is required to manage the effects of noise emissions under the RMA 91 through the District Plan. Almost all land use activities generate some degree of noise and can affect the health, safety and amenity of the district’s residents and visitors.
► New national direction requires a standalone noise chapter, and standardised methods for assessing noise.
► Noise standards in the current District Plan do not align with industry best practice.
► No noise limits for aircraft eg. helicopter take-offs and landings and temporary activities eg. construction, demolition, events.
► No rules to manage potential noise effects from bird scaring and frost fans in the rural areas.
► No provisions around vibration (relevant for construction and demolition activities).
► Recreational activities are exempt from any noise standard provisions.
► A reactive enforcement approach taken by Council with noise issues generally dealt with reactively upon a complaint being received.
Excessive noise can detract from the character and amenity values associated with the local environment. Noise generating activities can also be restricted by noise ‘sensitive’ activities close-by that seek a higher level of amenity (reverse sensitivity). Activities sensitive to noise can include residential activities, homes for the elderly including retirement villages and in-house aged care facilities, visitor accommodation and hospitals.
DRAFT RESPONSES TO KEY ISSUES
► All noise related matters in a standalone Noise chapter.
► Adopt up-to-date national noise standards and technical descriptors.
► New standards to better manage reverse sensitivity effects of noise at the interface between the living and working areas and on the urban/rural fringe.
► Use of other mechanisms, such as, noise control boundaries, buffer areas or building setbacks, internal sound insulation requirements as appropriate tools to protect existing or future noise sensitive activities surrounding existing strategic infrastructure eg. major transport corridors, airport.
► Require high noise generating activities to provide suitable mitigation measures up front at the resource consent stage.
► New noise standards for aircraft and helicopter landings (excluding intermittent and infrequent rural production activities and emergency use operations).
► New vibration standards for stationary machinery, construction and demolition machinery, explosives use and blasting in higher amenity areas and/or adjacent to noise sensitive activities.
► New noise standards for temporary activities (eg. construction, demolition).
► Ensure noise associated with activities in Council public recreational areas is appropriate to the amenity values anticipated in the surrounding environment.
► Clear policy guidance/ direction for activities that do not meet permitted (as of right) standards and require resource consent.