Buller District Council

Noise Management

How loud is too loud?

While it is everyone’s individual responsibility to keep the noise they make to an acceptable level, under the Resource Management Act 1991 [RMA], the Buller District Council has the power to provide noise control measures for excessive or unreasonable noise.

The RMA is the legislation that deals with noise. This Act is designed to:

  • Protect people from unreasonable or excessive noise
  • Provide effective noise control in our community
  • Protect the rights of people and industry to make a reasonable level of noise
  • Allow the public, the local authorities and the police to work together to control noise

The RMA defines the term “excessive noise” as being any noise under human control which unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort, and convenience of any other person…. This can be at any time of the day; there is no time restriction for excessive noise.

What can be done about noise?

Response to noise varies from person to person. One person’s opinion of what constitutes excessive noise may be totally different to another person. When a complaint is lodged a noise control officer will visit the property. The noise complaint will then be assessed and the appropriate action taken.

If the noise is excessive, the noise control officer may issue a written direction under the RMA. This requires the noise to be reduced to an acceptable level. A written direction remains in place for up to 72 hours from the time it is issued. If further complaints are received after a written direction has been issued and the noise is deemed excessive, a noise control officer and the police will enter the property and remove and impound the stereo or other equipment causing the noise.

Seizure of the equipment will result in an infringement notice (instant fine) of up to $750 plus costs.

Repeated instances of excessive noise may result in an abatement notice and court imposed fines of up to $10,000.

Many noise complaints can be avoided by advising your neighbours in advance of events and by having a little neighbourly consideration.

What happens to seized equipment?

Where equipment is seized, it will be delivered to us the following working day. The equipment may be returned to the owner upon payment of a fee or we may refuse to return the equipment. (This decision can be appealed to the Environment Court.)

Who can I contact to complain about noise?

Noise can be deemed ‘excessive’ at any time of the day or night. Factors that may make noise excessive or unreasonable include; loudness, time of day, background noise, length of time and frequency.

The Council provides a 24 hours, 7 day a week noise control service. It is important to make the complaint whilst the noise is still occurring. Noise complaints cannot be investigated after the event and must be reported at the time if any follow-up action is to be initiated.

Call 03 788 9115 for our Noise Control service

Links to Legislation regarding noise control

Resource Management Act 1991

Resource Management Act – Meaning of excessive noise

Resource Management Act – Duty to avoid unreasonable noise 

Resource Management Act – Compliance with noise direction


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