Your rights and responsibilities
Everyone is responsible for the noise they make. The Resource Management Act 1991 requires every person carrying out an activity to ensure the noise does not exceed a reasonable level.
Noise is not to be of such a nature as to unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort and convenience of any person.
When noise annoys you, you have the right to have excessive noise stopped or reduced, provided the noise is under human control, at any time of the day or night - whether it is from a loud party, an alarm or another source.
The requirements under the Resource Management Act are designed to:
- protect people from excessive noise
- provide effective noise control in our community
- protect the rights of people and industry to make a reasonable level of noise.
What is a reasonable level of noise?
Noise can disturb or annoy some people and not others. If noise being generated from your property is clearly audible from your neighbours' boundary, it may be considered excessive.
Businesses and commercial activities, including rural activities that operate within the Council area are also required to meet specified noise levels that are set in the Council's Operative District Plan. These levels differ depending on the area, and any conditions that may have been a requirement of a resource consent.
When noise is deemed to be excessive
Anyone causing excessive noise may be given a "noise direction notice" or verbally warned to desist by an enforcement officer.
If the noise is not reduced immediately, steps can be taken straight away.
An enforcement officer, accompanied by a police officer, can enter the premises and:
- Remove whatever is making the noise
- Render it inoperable.
What happens to the equipment which is seized?
Any equipment taken by an enforcement officer can be reclaimed from the Council offices upon payment of a $256 fee, which covers the costs of removal and storage.
How do I make a complaint?
Any person can make a complaint about any noise they judge to be unreasonable or excessive by phoning 571 8008 (24 hrs) or emailing email@example.com. Complainants' details are kept confidential.
Noise Control Officers consider the effect the noise is having on the complainant, and take into account the time of day, background noise and duration. Some types of noise such as noise from industry or commercial uses have to be measured to make sure they comply with the limits stated in the District Plan.
Your complaint will be handled by a Council officer during work hours, 8am - 5pm weekdays, and a security company contracted by Council outside these stated hours.
What about traffic and barking dogs?
Not all noise falls within the jurisdiction of Council's noise control service. Some noise is covered by other legislation or agencies such as:
- Dog Control Act 1996 - make a complaint to Council by phoning 571 8008 (24 hrs) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Complainants' details are kept confidential.
Noisy vehicles driven on roads
- Traffic Regulations - make a complaint to NZ Police
Aircraft during flight and trains travelling along rail corridors
- Exempt from the Resource Management Act
Short term domestic activities such as lawn-mowing. In the rural area, normal farming practices including harvesting and spraying.
Further details are in Section 4C - Amenity (PDF, 454KB) of the Western Bay of Plenty District Plan.
Who pays for the service?
All services are paid for by Council - funded by rates.
If Council receives calls considered vexatious or consistently unsubstantiated it has the right to warn and charge the callers for unnecessary call outs.