Infringement notices can be issued for one or more breaches of district or regional plan rules in relation to noise (breach of s9 of the RMA is an offence under s338(1) and an infringement offence). They can also be issued for contravening an excessive noise direction under s327, and for breach of an abatement notice for unreasonable noise under s322(1)(c). As prescribed under the Resource Management (Infringement Offences) Regulations 1999, the penalties are:
- $300 - for contravening s9 offences
- $500 - contravening an excessive noise direction
- $750 - contravening an abatement notice.
The amounts charged are relatively small and may not be a sufficient deterrent for some offenders.
On prosecution, the maximum penalty for a breach of noise rules (s9) or of an enforcement order relating to noise by a natural person is two years imprisonment or a $300,000 fine. In the case of other persons, the maximum penalty is a $600,000 fine. By comparison, the maximum penalty for breach of an excessive noise direction under s327 or an abatement notice for unreasonable noise under s322(1)(c) is $10,000.
Enforcement officers should consider this significant difference in penalties when deciding what enforcement tool to use. For example, it might be more appropriate to apply for an enforcement order for more serious and on-going emissions of noise, including actions by a potential defendant that are deliberate, reckless or negligent. Where the offence involves a breach of a resource consent, the Court may, instead of or in addition to the maximum penalties above, make an order that requires a consent authority to review a resource consent under s128(2) of the RMA.