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Nelson City Council and Incite Planning Consultants have received the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) Best Practice Award for the Port Nelson Noise project.
The Award recognises outstanding creativity, innovation, and service in district and regional planning.
The Port Noise project involved finding a solution through the Resource Management Act process that allows the Port to keep operating while nearby residents get a good night’s sleep. The success of the project is seen in the number of complaints about port noise dropping from 73 in 2003 to just 10 in 2011.
Councillor Mike Ward, Policy and Planning Co Portfolio holder says “Developing a solution has taken 10 years of work and wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of Port Nelson Ltd to the process and the residents who have put their energy into making the Port Nelson Liaison Committee work effectively. It really has been a team effort.”
The Port Noise Variation departs from the traditional method of 'noise at boundary controls' and instead places incentives for the Port operator to actively reduce its noise through a Port Noise Management Plan, and for it to also mitigate the noise effects by having to insulate, and in some cases purchase, the most affected residential properties.
NZPI highlighted that a key success of the project was the process which encouraged active participation by the key players. The Port operator was proactive in developing an initial draft Variation, and it has since been actively reducing noise and insulating the houses most affected. The residents are part of a Port Noise Liaison Committee which plays an important role in day-to-day port operations.
The Awards Panel commended the Nelson Port Noise Project for developing and implementing an incentive based approach addressing the needs of a significant infrastructure asset whilst also maintaining the amenity of nearby residents. The Panel considered the project to be an excellent example of how meaningful consultation and engagement can lead to a far greater level of buy-in and goodwill than through a contested Resource Management Act process.