All Joe wants is a good night’s sleep
After six years, Joe Roberts has had enough of the concreting firm down the road disrupting his sleep.
The New Plymouth resident moved into his Clemow Rd home in 2012, and ever since then has been fighting New Plymouth District Council over the movements of Firth Concrete, which often takes deliveries and operates machinery into the small hours.
‘‘Until August of this year, we couldn’t string a week of quiet nights together,’’ he said.
‘‘My family was sleeping in the back lounge of our three-bedroom house. I had to pick up my daughter from school because she was in tears and not coping due to lack of sleep.’’
NPDC says that an abatement notice, issued last month, will prevent the night noise.
Repeated complaints to the council were met with assurances that it was speaking to Firth and reminding it of its obligations.
But still the deliveries in the middle of the night, the vibrator machine mixing the cement and sand and other machinery continued. He was told to call noise control, who would not show up before the trucks left.
‘‘The onus was on me to prove that noise was happening.
‘‘I talked to the manager: I said ‘What right do you have to wake us up at 4 in the morning?’ He said: ‘I have an agreement with NPDC that I’m allowed to do this’.’’
The ‘‘verbal agreement’’ with the council meant Firth was allowed to operate outside the noise regulations, but the council had never told Roberts.
‘‘The agreement was that the households receive a letter from Firth.’’
Council customer and regulatory solutions manager Katrina Brunton said there had never been a restriction on Firth operating at night, but it had to meet noise requirements.
‘‘An understanding in 2003 enabled Firth to have some night deliveries but only if local residents had been informed.
‘‘This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years and we’re sorry it’s been a problem for residents near to the Clemow Rd site.
NPDC has been working with Firth and nearby residents and has tried several approaches to balance these issues, which have arisen at times in an area where an industrial and residential zone are in close proximity.’’
The abatement notice required Firth to comply with the noise limit requirements in the district plan, and cancelled out the previous understanding, she said.
‘‘NPDC will continue to monitor the situation.’’
Roberts said the noise had slowed down since an abatement notice, effective from September 17, was issued, but it had not stopped completely.
He has also made other complaints including cement dust and truck speeds.
‘‘It’s very hard to get the residents of the street to be in agreement to be doing something about Firth, because they have tried and tried and tried again.’’
Firth Taranaki area manager Owen Richardson said they understood the concerns.
‘‘As per the abatement notice, Firth is now only taking deliveries within normal business hours.
‘‘The previous understanding with the council allowed deliveries outside business hours if absolutely necessary but that is no longer happening.
‘‘We have been working with the council and a sound engineering company for the past few months to undertake sound monitoring and will be using this data to look at ways to further buffer sound to the surrounding area.’’
New Plymouth resident Joe Roberts with the hundreds of emails detailing his long battle for a good night’s sleep.