A Wairau Valley vineyard owner is offering to tone down the noise of his frost fans so his neighbours can sleep.
Bruce Forlong, of Tirosh Estate Ltd, applied for resource consents for 23 frost fans in his vineyard 10 kilometres inland from Wairau Valley township, at a hearing on November 22.
Marlborough District Council commissioner John Maassen asked him to reach voluntary agreement with neighbours by Friday last week, rather than him making a ruling. Mr Forlong told the Marlborough Express he sent neighbours a letter guaranteeing noise in their bedrooms would not exceed 35 decibels (dB).
He planned to reduce noise to this level by retro-fitting two-bladed fans with quieter three or perhaps four-bladed models. If this did not work, he would sound-insulate homes. He and the manager of a nearby Waihopai Valley vineyard, which ran another 17 fans, had visited people affected by both sets to discuss how noise problems could be solved.
The council issued abatement notices on 130 machines in the area 15km west of Wairau Valley township after neighbours complained about noise.
Mr Forlong said he and the other growers involved were being unfairly used to test new frost-fan noise rules. The fans on his vineyard came with certificates confirming they met noise rules, so he resented being treated as the bad guy after later testing showed they were not compliant. Objector Lee Dobson said it was one of the most populated areas of Marlborough for the machines, which ran 10-20 nights a year. But since Mr Forlong had moved to Wairau Valley, he had made a genuine effort to solve the problem. He hoped Tirosh and Waihopai Valley vineyards would meet a verbal agreement to run 43 fans on a still night and employ an acoustic engineer to measure the noise, once those closest to homes had been retro-fitted with quieter blades.
NZ Frost Fans managing director Steve Haslett said the FrostBoss C49 fans his company made and sold turned more slowly than two-bladed models to move the same amount of warm air to vines.
- The Marlborough Express