The Invercargill City Council has withdrawn a charge from the Invercargill District Court against the Niagara Sawmilling Co Ltd relating to a breach of the noise limits set out in the Invercargill District Plan.
Chief Executive Richard King said he had written to Kennington residents to update them on key issues relating to noise at the Niagara Sawmill Co and explaining why the Council was withdrawing the charge.
The charge lodged in the District Court in relation to breach of the noise limit was for the remanufacturing plant on Kennington Road between 6am and 7am.
“As we have worked through the information needed for this case to proceed, we have determined not to proceed with the charge because of a legal technicality.
“The current Invercargill District Plan stipulates that the noise measurement had to be conducted to the 1991 Standard. However, environmental factors related to background noise from traffic on State Highway 1 meant it was impossible to do this.
“The measurements were instead conducted to the 2008 Standard, which is considered to be best practice. However, the current Invercargill District Plan does not allow this and stipulates it must be to the older, 1991 Standard.
“Council has been for several years undertaking the lengthy process of updating the District Plan – and the new Plan should come into force later this year, which will allow measurements to be conducted to the 2008 Standard but until it does, if the measurements are not conducted to the 1991 Standard they can be challenged in Court.
“I am not prepared to proceed in the District Court knowing that we can be challenged on a legal technicality and the prosecution may be unsuccessful,” Mr King said.
“Council remains committed to monitoring noise from the Niagara plant. Further testing will be conducted in the near future,” he said.
The Council has also granted a six-month Resource Consent to Niagara for the Main Mill facing on to Kennington Village. This Resource Consent allows Niagara to emit noise greater than the Operative Plan allows for six months
Niagara lodged an application seeking the Consent as it will allow Niagara to return to 24 hour a day production, within higher noise limits.
During these six months, it is anticipated that Niagara will continue to work on noise mitigation measures.
Niagara will provide three noise reports (one every two months) to the Council and the Council may also undertake noise testing during this time.
Following the construction of the earth bund along First Street in the Kennington Village, Niagara was required to apply for a retrospective Resource Consent.
Niagara has lodged this application and it was placed on hold for Niagara to provide further written approvals from people identified as being potentially affected.
Niagara responded with further approvals on 20 May 2016 and the Council is now processing that information.
The next step in this Consent process is for the Council to make a decision on Notification, should it be satisfied that it has all the information needed.
If a written approval has been received this means that the Council cannot take into account the effects of the earth bund on that person. Notification means that not everybody has provided a written approval and the Council is seeking submissions from those affected people as to the effect of the bund on them.
This decision will be communicated in due course. Please note that if Council decides it has enough information, and written approvals, the decision will be made without any further input from the community.