Council updated the Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan yesterday, to give effect to National Planning Standard 15 (NPS15). Now helicopter noise will be averaged over one day instead of over three days.
Council has posted the notice in the usual place. In the implementation report the planners explained the reason for the change:
The early implementation of NPS15 in the HGI Plan responds to concerns expressed by some community groups and three local boards about the level of helicopter activity in the Hauraki Gulf Islands area. The relief sought by the concerned parties is for greater control to be applied in the assessment of new helicopter applications; and for widening of the scope for assessment of effects from helicopter activity that is a Restricted Discretionary Activity under the HGI Plan.
One area in which control can be increased in the HGI Plan is through early application of NPS15 to helicopter noise measurement. As NPS15 does not allow averaging to be used, this means that provisions in the existing rules of the HGI Plan which provide for averaging (using a 3-day rolling average) will be removed.
They also explained the impacts of the change:
The impact of introducing NPS15 to the HGI Plan is that the noise limit for determining whether a helipad is a restricted discretionary activity under Rule 13.8.2 will change, from Ldn 50dBA calculated over a 3 day rolling average, to just Ldn 50dBA – ie the 3 day rolling average component will be removed from the Rule 13.8.2 in relation to the use of helipads, and the assessment criteria for discretionary activities will also be amended for consistency. The amendment to Rule 13.8.2 has implications for determining activity status of a helipad application which are based on compliance with noise limits set by the HGI Plan. Compliance is required in order that an application is assessed as a Restricted Discretionary Activity. Otherwise the activity becomes a Discretionary Activity.
The impact of removing the 3-day rolling average will be that it makes it more difficult for helicopter applications to meet noise limitations set for Restricted Discretionary activities. The amendments to implement NPS15 (refer to section 3 below) will lift the bottom line for noise measurement assessing whether the noise standards are met.
In terms of activity status, the effect of removing the ‘3-day rolling average’ will be to increase the minimum setback distance to the nearest nominal boundary by approximately 50m (factors such as helicopter type, flightpath, duration of ground idle and topography will determine actual setback distance); and /or reduce the maximum no of helicopter take-offs and landings able to be considered as a Restricted Discretionary Activity.
There may be a greater number of applications which cannot meet the noise limit and thereby become Discretionary Activities. The difference in the activity status is that the scope of assessment of effects for Discretionary Activities is unlimited, whereas the scope of assessment for Restricted Discretionary Activities is limited to the matters of discretion of noise effects and visual amenity effects from earthworks and helipad structure.
Note: The changes will affect new helipad applications only. It is important to note that the changes do not affect existing helipad consents – these consents have existing use rights in accordance with section 10 of the Resource Management Act 1991.
We covered the implications of this ourselves recently.
Council put the change up yesterday, but we immediately noticed some errors and brought them to Council’s attention. One of the errors has been fixed today, but a further error remains. In the original rule for a discretionary activity it says:
13.8.4 Assessment criteria for discretionary activities
The council’s assessment of an application for a helipad or airstrip as a discretionary activity will include consideration of the matters set out in 13.8.2 and the following matters:
- The extent to which the helinoise boundary meets or exceeds the limits of acceptability of table 1 of NZS 6807:1994 Noise Management and Land Use Planning for Helicopter Landing Areas
But now it says:
The council’s assessment of an application for a helipad as a discretionary activity will include consideration of the matters set out in 13.8.2 and the following matters:
- The extent to which the helinoise boundary meets or exceeds the limits of acceptability of Rule 13.8.2(3).
The limits of acceptability of table 1 of NZS 6807:1994 are more restrictive, for residential areas, than the limits of acceptability of Rule 13.8.2(3).
For some reason council has not fixed this error. Council has, presumably mistakenly, changed a rule to be more permissive, and contrary to NZS 6807:1994. That also makes it contrary to NPS15, which says:
Any plan rule to manage noise emissions must be in accordance with the mandatory noise measurement methods and symbols in the applicable New Zealand Standards incorporated by reference into the planning standards and listed below:
…New Zealand Standard 6807:1994 – Noise Management and Land Use Planning for Helicopter Landing Areas- excluding 4.3 Averaging
We expect this error to be fixed too.