No silver bullet for lack of sleep or noise control

By Matthew Martin

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Dr Harry Pert says in extreme circumstances lack of sleep could cause accidents, lead to poor performances at work and effect people's alertness.  Photo/File
Dr Harry Pert says in extreme circumstances lack of sleep could cause accidents, lead to poor performances at work and effect people's alertness. Photo/File

Some eastern suburbs residents are complaining of sleep deprivation, fatigue and stress while others are wondering what they can do under the Resource Management Act to combat noise coming from the Lumbercube mill.

The Rotorua Daily Post spoke to local medical professionals and a lawyer well versed in the Resource Management Act about the effects of lost sleep and how they can use the law to beat the situation.

Ranolf Medical Centre GP Harry Pert said many people faced the problem of inadequate sleep.

"Most commonly today it's caused by too much screen time before bed ... due to the blue light emitted by iPads, tablet devices, laptops, smartphones and LCD screens," Dr Pert said.

"But, many people have problems with low-grade sleep deprivation that has effects on memory, brain function, relationships, causes stress and irritability."

He said in extreme circumstances lack of sleep could cause accidents, lead to poor performances at work and effect people's alertness.

"It can have a very significant effect on your general quality of life, but we tend to muddle through," he said.

Toi Te Ora Public Health Service medical officer of health Phil Shoemack said another common form of sleep deprivation would be experienced by the parents of young babies.

"We all need our sleep, there's always a variation on how much an individual needs, but we can all agree when we don't get enough it's not good," Dr Shoemack said.

"It's not just the hours, but it's the quality of sleep," he said.

"It can affect physical performance, intellectual capacity and the ability to do your work."

Resource management law specialist and partner at Holland Beckett Lawyers, Lara Burkhardt, said district plans manage land use and subdivision, including conflicts that arise between activities and people.

"In the case of noise, the district plan imposes noise limits that apply in each zone. When conflict arises it is the council's responsibility to investigate and take action to ensure the rules are met.

"If people are dissatisfied with the council's response it is always open to them to take private enforcement action, however expert advice should be sought."

She said even if an activity complied with the district plan noise limits, there was a general duty under the RMA to adopt the best practicable option to ensure noise did not exceed a "reasonable level."

"In cases involving industrial operations, the monitoring, assessment and management of noise can be expected to be extensive and will necessarily involve technical experts," she said.

Matthew Martin

- Rotorua Daily Post

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