City's noise complaints reported in stereo

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 12/08/2014

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When it comes to noise complaints in Palmerston North, age is likely to determine which side of the fence neighbours are on.

City council environmental protection services head Wayne Jameson said that while mapping the source of noise complaints did not correlate to student streets, noise-makers tended to be younger than 30, and complaints came from the over-40s.

Noise pollution was an insidious problem in cities and the complaints were concentrated in areas where a lot of people lived close together.

During the year to the end of June, a total of 4136 noise complaints were logged by the city council, down from 4484 the year before, and well down on the 5091 calls in the 2010-11 year.

The leading causes of complaints remained the same for the past two years. Loud stereos trumped the lot, with 3108 complaints in the year ended June 2014, followed by the thumping sound of a bass, on 420, and general party noise, on 295.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were the most common time for complaints.

While more than 300 complaints came in most months, there were twin peaks at 427 in both November and March, possibly related to the end of exams, and the arrival of students for the new academic year.

September, the buildup to exams, was the quietest month.

Jameson said many complaints were resolved before a noise control officer was sent out. Calls were logged, and complainants were asked to call back in 30 minutes if the problem persisted. The delay allowed many people time to realise they were making too much noise and to turn the volume down without intervention.

About one third of calls were not repeated, and no action was needed, saving ratepayers about $35,000 a year.

A handful of about 20 properties in residential areas that sparked recurrent complaints were on an immediate response list. Jameson said where there were persistent problems with people disturbing the neighbours, his staff would work with both parties to reach a solution, which could be something as simple as changing where a vehicle parked to shield the noise.

Noise control officers could seize equipment, impose fines and dispose of equipment if problems continued. "People yelling" prompted 46 calls, while 45 people called about house alarms going off.

In the past year, no-one has complained about a rooster crowing, after a complaint the year before. In bottom place in the annual tally of noise complaints was a chainsaw. Other less common complaints were about gunshots, a radio, TVs, hammering and fireworks.

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Probably the city's noisiest event, the stock cars, was not singled out.

Jameson said most complaints about Speedway went to Arena Manawatu, which could request noise monitoring, but that had not been necessary in the past year.

There were just eight complaints about noisy vehicles in general.

- Manawatu Standard

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