A gravel extracting business is battling to stay in operation.

In seeking compliance, the company has carried out sweeping changes - from converting a processing area into pasture and changing the reversing signal tone on a digger.

Gravel has been extracted from Hawke's Bay rivers and foreshore for more than a century.

At the Ngaruroro River in Maraekakaho, it's only been decades, removed to help prevent floods and used in the roading and building industries.

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Russell Roads Ltd has resource consent from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to remove the gravel but does not have consent from Hastings District Council to process the gravel on the riverside.

Russell Roads owner, Robert Gale said the gravel processing easily preceded the Resource Management Act so it did not need resource consent.

"Resource consent – that it was required – only came in from 2009, but it was always an existing-rights activity because it has been operating for 26 years," he said.

However, his company has undergone strong growth in recent years and local residents complained to Hastings District Council which served an abatement notice on Russell Roads, to cease processing by February this year.

With 70 jobs on the line, the company received a stay from the Environment Court which said there were "seriously arguable questions" about the validity of the abatement notice.

Hastings District Council declined to provide a copy of the abatement notice and give an interview on the matter but said it was expecting a resource consent application in 2 to 3 weeks.

A spokesperson for unhappy residents said the group was not yet ready to comment.

Meanwhile, Gale was working hard to fix the problem.

Work has been moved away from residents, a processing area visible from the highway was being turned into pasture, plantings and sealed roads were planned and a significant capital investment already made.

"I upgraded. I spent $1million last year buying a new state-of-the-art crushing machine so you can actually have a conversation beside it while it is operating.

"We just had the noise reports done and the only thing that was above the decibel reading on the boundaries was the reversing signal of the loader. They've asked us to change the tone.

"Things are changing and there are different expectations. We just need to make sure we comply with what needs to happen."

Gale hoped to have his resource consent application granted within three months but this was not his most onerous battle.

He was recently forced to spend $500,000 on his under-construction asphalt plant in Hastings, after neighbour McCain Foods appealed the resource consent granted by Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

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