A Russell motelier says he has lost thousands of dollars in refunds and lost bookings due to noise from major earthworks directly across the road.

John Melis, of Motel Russell on Matauwhi Rd, says contractors started work on a road opposite his business on March 10. The private road is cut into the hillside and leads to a property overlooking the water at Russell. As a result of the noise, which starts as early as 7.45am and continues most days until 6pm, business in the last three weeks of the visitor season was down 50 per cent on the same time last year.

He had been forced to refund $2500 to tourists who said they couldn't take the noise and moved out, and had lost a wedding contract worth $3500.

"We've seen people drive down here, look up at our motel and look across the road - then they turn around and go into town."


Mr Melis said the noise was giving tourists who did stay a poor impression of Russell because they could not relax in their rooms or by the pool.

"We have people who drive three hours to get here from Auckland. They expect a quiet room when they arrive."

He had contacted councillors, Mayor John Carter and council staff, but all told him the contractors were working within their consent conditions so there was nothing they could do. Council staff had taken noise measurements but always arrived during a lull in the earthworks, he said. Mr Melis said he did not object to the work itself, just the timing.

"We would've been more than happy if the work took place at the end of May into June, which is traditionally the quiet time of the year here ."

The council had shown a lack of care in allowing the work to go ahead during the visitor season and not keeping local businesses informed, Mr Melis said. He has contacted the property owners but has yet to receive a reply.

Far North District Council district services manager Dean Myburgh said the private project involved the construction of a driveway and retaining walls.

The project required a resource consent because it did not comply with the District Plan's rules on excavation and filling, but it was issued without public notification because any adverse effects were deemed to be no more than minor.

Mr Myburgh said the contractor had so far complied with all consent conditions. The council had received a number of complaints alleging excessive noise but when inspectors visited no problems were identified.

The council had contacted the motel to check whether there were times when the noise problem was especially bad, to ascertain whether there was non-compliance at specific times.

"The contractor is aware that construction activities are causing inconvenience to the motel and its guests. He has tried to minimise that inconvenience by ceasing all weekend work and ensuring no work is carried out over the Easter break," he said.