Noise and Vibration

The Resource Management Act (RMA) is the principle statute in New Zealand that outlines the framework for the management and control of noise and vibration. The Act’s provisions are designed to protect people from unreasonable or excessive noise and vibration, whilst protecting the rights of people and industry to make a reasonable level of noise and vibration. In accordance with Part 1 Section 2 of the RMA, noise includes vibration.

In order to achieve the purpose of the RMA, territorial authorities prepare and implement district plans. These set out a framework for each different district to manage the development of their resources, and include rules that detail the “permitted” activity criteria; that is, the level of noise and vibration that can be generated by various activities and does not require resource consent because it is considered reasonable in terms of the Act. Any activity that generates noise and vibration that exceeds these criteria will require a resource consent.

The noise and vibration rules in a district plan will set out the permitted activity criteria for noise and vibration levels and will reference the applicable standards that noise and vibration need to be measured and assessed in accordance with.

The RMA also provides scope for enforcement measures that may be used for the control of unreasonable and excessive noise (including vibration).  These measures are authorised by the local authority, usually by way of enforcement officers.

Other statutes dealing with noise (and in some cases also including vibration) include the Civil Aviation Act 1990, 4659 Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, 4660  The Dog Control Act 1996, 4661  Land Transport Act 1998, 4662 Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, 4663  Health and Safety at Work (Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations) Regulations 2016, 4664 Northland Reserves Bylaws 2007, 4665 and Health Act 1956. 4666

  1. Civil Aviation Act 1990: Section 97 (1) states that no action for nuisance may be brought in respect of specified noise or vibration caused by aircraft or aircraft engines on an aerodrome, so long as the provisions of the rules are duly complied with

  2. The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992: Section 6(d) requires employers to ensure that employees while at work are not exposed to hazards in their place of work or near the place of work under the employers control, this includes noise hazards. Regulation 11 of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995 requires employers to take all practicable steps to ensure that no employee is exposed to noise above an average level of 85 decibels over eight hours, or a peak level of 140 decibels, even when wearing hearing protection.

  3. The Dog Control Act 1996: Section 55 covers barking dogs and grants dog control officers and dog rangers the powers to investigate complaints.

  4. Land Transport Act 1998: Sections 115(3A) and (3B) empowers enforcement officers to direct a driver or owner of the vehicle to comply with any applicable requirements with respect to the noise emitted by the vehicle's exhaust system.

  5. Land Transport (Road User) Rules 2004: Rule 7.4 states a driver must not operate a vehicle that creates noise that, having regard to all the circumstances, is excessive. 

  6. Health and Safety at Work (Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations) Regulations 2016: Section 108 (1) applies to mining operations that have been identified as potentially having long-term effects on the health of mine workers, and states that the worker health control plan must address hazards that are to be monitored and controlled where they are present, including noise and vibration. 

  7. Northland Reserves Bylaws 2007: Section 21 states that the bylaw applies to a sound or noise that disturbs or annoys a person in the reserve, or a sound or noise that an authorised person reasonably believes is likely to disturb or annoy a person in the reserve. 

  8. Health Act 1956: Section 23 grants general powers and duties to local authorities in respect of public health, including the appointment of officers who may secure the abatement of the nuisance or the removal of the condition. Nuisance specific to noise is defined as any noise or vibration which occurs in or is emitted from any building, premises, or land to a degree that is likely to be injurious to health.

Last updated at 1:40PM on February 2, 2018