Remedies available under the RMA

Excessive Noise Direction 

Excessive noise (including vibration) means “any noise that is under human control and of such a nature as to unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort, and convenience of any person.” 4685 An excessive noise direction can be issued by an enforcement officer in relation to excessive noise. 4686 The direction requires the occupier to immediately reduce the noise to a reasonable level and prohibits any person from emitting excessive noise from the place during a 72 hour period (or shorter period if specified). 4687 If the occupier fails to comply with the notice an enforcement officer (accompanied by a constable), or a constable may enter the place and remove, render inoperable, or lock away the instrument, appliance, vehicle, aircraft, train or machine making the noise. 4688

Abatement Notice 

An abatement notice is a measure used to enforce compliance with the RMA and planning instruments. An abatement notice can only be served by an enforcement officer acting on the local authorities behalf. An abatement notice may require a person to cease doing anything that contravenes the RMA or a rule in a plan. 4689 A person must comply with an abatement notice within the period specified in the notice. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence with a penalty of up to two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $300,000. 4690

Written Approval 

If an applicant obtains written approval from the receivers that will be exposed to noise and vibration from the site then the consent authority must, when deciding whether the activity is likely to have a more than minor adverse effect on the environment, disregard any effect on a person who has given written approval to the relevant application. 4691 This is seen frequently in areas where early childhood education centres are established in residential zones. The affected neighbours may provide written approval to noise levels that exceed the permitted activity levels if they are out at work for the duration of time the centre is open.  Similarly, written approval is often sought for projects where construction noise limits may exceed the permitted activity criteria, but the works are for a short duration of time. 


A declaration can be sought from the Environment Court to determine whether an act or omission contravenes the RMA. 4692 For example a declaration could be sought to ascertain the interpretation of noise rules in a District Plan, whether a noise exceeds a reasonable level and/or whether a noise is offensive or objectionable. A declaration has no enforcement outcome. 

Enforcement Order

An enforcement order can be sought from the Environment Court where a person is contravening the RMA or a rule in a plan. 4693 Failure to comply with an enforcement order is an offence with a penalty of up to two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $300,000. 4694

  1. Section 326 RMA. This provision expressly excludes aircraft noise before during or after flight, vehicles driven on roads (within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Land Transport Act 1998) or train noise, other than when being tested. 

  2. Section 326 RMA

  3. Section 327 RMA

  4. Section 328 RMA

  5. Section 322 RMA.

  6. Sections 338 and 339 RMA

  7. Section 95D (e) RMA

  8. Section 310 RMA

  9. Section 314 RMA

  10. Sections 338 and 339 RMA

Last updated at 1:39PM on February 2, 2018