Noise control

Council and its noise control contractors respond to complaints about noise in the community.

Generally ,action will be taken when the noise unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort and convenience of any person. Bluff and Invercargill City are divided into sub-areas which have noise-level guidelines for businesses, residential, farming and day-to-day activities. In general, industrial zones are allocated higher noise limits than residential zones.

Armourguard has been contracted to handle 24/7 issues such as loud stereos and noisy parties. Business-related noise complaints will still be dealt with by Council staff. The noise control phone numbers: (03) 211 1777 and (03) 211 1679 after hours.

Council decided to tender the service after reviewing its 2014-2015 Annual Plan. Council Environmental Health Manager John Youngson said the old system allowed a 30-minute stand-down period for offenders who would receive a warning only after a second visit from Council staff. Council staff were used during normal working hours and the after-hours service was contracted out. It led to delays if staff were busy during work hours.

“We will now attend to all noise concerns straight away and people are going to get a warning on the first visit. We will also be issuing infringement notices if we are required to return, and property will also be seized,” Mr Youngson said. “Other councils do the same thing as staff can be dealing with dangerous situations. Armourguard staff are trained and have the backup of technology and the Police.”

Frequently asked questions:

What law covers noise control?
Noise control comes under the Resource Management Act 1991, the aims of which are to protect people from unreasonable or excessive noise, provide noise control in the community, protect the rights of people and industry to make a reasonable amount of noise, and to allow the public, local authorities and Police to work together to control noise.

What is a reasonable level of noise?
Noise can disturb some people and not others. Some of the following factors determine if the noise is reasonable, unreasonable, or excessive: time of day, duration, how often the noise occurs, frequency of pitch, tonal quality, activity producing the noise, purpose of the noise, location of the premises making the noise, type of premises making the noise, compliance with town planning rules and bylaws (a level of noise which does not exceed planning rules or bylaws is more likely to be reasonable), sound level of the noise, level of other sources of noise nearby, and the potential to avoid or reduce the noise

What happens in the case of 'unreasonable' or 'excessive' noise?
Excessive noise is that which seriously upsets the peace, comfort and convenience of people living close by. A Council enforcement officer or the Police will order the noise to be stopped while they are at the scene. Anyone making unreasonable noise may be given an abatement notice. This requires action to be taken to reduce the noise to a reasonable level, within a defined time (not less than 7 days). An excessive noise direction prohibits any further excessive noise from the premises for 72 hours.