Editorial- "Sometimes, Councils Ought not to Listen"
Editorial: "As Auckland expands under its new Unitary Plan, the council is
going to have to deal with the kind of tension that has emerged at Brookby
near Clevedon. Brookby is the home of the Auckland Pistol Club that has been
in existence for 47 years. It is one of the largest gun clubs in the
country, drawing members from all over the Auckland region and Waikato. It
holds firing sessions on Wednesday afternoons and at weekends and sometimes
hosts North Island and national handgun championships. Land adjacent to the
club has been subdivided for housing and a few months ago the first
residents moved in. Soon the club was the subject of a noise complaint to
Obviously the residents knew the gun club was there before they bought their
houses. The club has never hidden its existence. It has a proud sign on the
gate saying, "Auckland Shooting Complex". Was that not a hint to prospective
neighbours? By what right do any of them think they now have a right to
The Auckland Council's noise control inspectors might have pointed this out
to the complainants but they did not. They notified the club of the
complaint and asked the council to take remedial steps. The club has closed
in the interim and spent $40,000 on a report by a sound engineer. Now it
fears it could be forced to spend $500,000 on sound mitigation measures and
close some ranges. This is a disgrace.
It happens too often that people move into a residential development in a
semi-rural area and expect their rights to supersede those of activities
well established in the district and known to them before they moved in.
Perhaps they imagine that when an urban council designates the area for
residential development, the council has a responsibility to remove or
mitigate any nearby activities that would detract from their quality of
life. Worse, the council may accept this responsibility. Worse still, the
law may be on the side of the newcomers.
The Resource Management Act is imbued with a spirit of consultation,
compromise and mitigation, but in situations where an existing activity
presents a predictable noise, odour or the like, people are buying with
their eyes open. In cases such as this, it appears at least some are moving
in with the expectation they will be able to force the gun club to go
elsewhere. The new Brookby resident has not needed to approach the club
directly. The person has sent the complaints to the council, which keeps
complainants' identities confidential. The council's resource consents
compliance manager, Steve Pearce, has told the Herald "We are currently
working with both the property owner and the club."
He should be telling the new resident in plain language the pistol club has
prior rights. Its bursts of gunfire on Wednesday afternoons and weekends are
a nuisance newcomers to the district should have been aware of, and knew
they would have to live with it, much like residents who buy into an area
under an airport flight path. Every time councils listen to complaints like
this one, they do a rank injustice to those who were there before.
- NZ Herald August 2016