Editorial: Complaints over rural noise futile

By Andrew Austin


Tensions between townies and rural folk are as old as the hills themselves.

With more and more lifestylers moving out to the country, the inevitable conflict between "proper" farmers and those who dabble is bound to arise.

The story on yesterday's front page about a feud between neighbours in Riverbend Rd, Meeanee, highlights once again the dilemma of urban sprawl in many city fringe areas around the world.

The Street family have occupied their 11-hectare farm for more than 50 years, but say they have had endless complaints about noise from neighbours.

The complaints have been about animals, tractors, motorbikes, duck shooting and, most recently, clay-bird shooting.

Lizzy Street said one neighbour even called police earlier this month when her son was hosting a clay-bird shoot for his 30th birthday.

"They have tried everything to shut us down, but they can't because the noise isn't above the decibel levels and we are on our own property and the kids are safe," she said.

It is quite amazing that people who move into an area know for a certain activity can then complain because they don't like that activity.

Take for example, the fiasco that erupted in Auckland in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup last year. There was much unhappiness from neighbours to Eden Park rugby stadium because of the late starts of some of the matches. You have to wonder why someone would buy a house next to a hulking big sports stadium if they were worried about noise.

It was their choice to move there, so they need to put up with it or move.

The same applies to this situation. If these people moved out to the city fringes for the country life, then they should accept the good with the bad. That includes the noise and some of the more robust smells that country areas produce.

Obviously there are limits to what people should be allowed to do and I think it all boils down to having respect for your neighbours. If you have an inconsiderate neighbour, you have a right to complain. But if the neighbour's activities are in keeping with the area and acceptable practices, then complaints are not valid.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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