Time’s Up for Noisy Factory

After a two-year battle by local residents, Farrah’s, a flatbread manufacturer in Silverstream, Upper Hutt has been given until Thursday 14 April to finally reduce the noise from their factory or start facing the consequences.

If the owners do not comply with an abatement notice issued last week by the Upper Hutt City Council, they face a fine of up to $10,000 with further fines of up to $1,000 for every additional day that they do not comply.

Farrah’s has generated hundreds of complaints to the local council since they began operating their new factory in March 2020. Excessive noise being emitted from their factory 24 hours a day from at least six different noise sources was found to be breaking the law. Part of the issue stems from the new factory being developed in an area that was surrounded by existing residential homes.

In December 2020, owner Jovan Čanak applied for resource consent to keep breaching noise limits indefinitely. However, after strong public opposition stating the harmful impact on neighbours, Čanak amended this request to ask for permission to continue breaching noise limits until April 2022 while mitigation was installed. On January 18 resource consent commenced within strict timeframes that included a requirement to be fully compliant by 1 April.

“In regard to noise non-compliance, I conclude that there is no reason why Farrah’s cannot comply with the noise standards,” noted independent commissioner Robert Schofield Schofield in his decision following the resource consent hearing in October 2021.

“The sources and nature of the noise emissions are such that they can be remedied, and, based on the expert evidence provided, there are feasible solutions that can be implemented within a short timeframe.”

The final deadline of April 1 has now passed and testing by the local council has proven that Farrah’s have failed to make good on their promises to sort out the overnight noise that disturbs residents’ sleep. Only 14 days passed before a 31 Jan deadline when Farrah’s were meant to have reduced the noise on the equipment that has now been shown to still be breaching the limits. It seems likely that Farrah’s has been in breach of their resource consent almost from the first moment that it took effect, and back to breaking the law daily.

Residents are hopeful that this abatement notice will be enforced, with daily fines if required, until Farrah’s finally reduce their noise to reasonable levels.

“Farrah’s have had more than two years to sort out the noise without a single punishment. Conversely, the many innocent families impacted, have had a large cost imposed on them including health, wellbeing, and their time trying to resolve this,” expressed local resident, Logan McLean.

“At every stage Farrah’s have demonstrated that they will not act unless forced to do so and will do the minimum that they can get away with. Their actions do not match their assertions that they care about their community, quite the opposite in fact. We are just looking forward to the day when we can get a decent night sleep in our own homes again.”

In response, Čanak expressed that the team at Farrah's is deeply concerned that a new noise has been identified and is impacting one neighbouring property.

"As soon as we were notified, we have worked quickly to address it. We now have a temporary fix in place, we are waiting on independent testing to confirm this has resolved this particular noise, and then we will move to implementing a permanent fix.

"We take all of our community's concerns seriously and have been working closely with the Upper Hutt District Council (UHCC) over the past year to resolve these issues. Prior to the discovery of this new noise, we understood we were operating in compliance with the conditions of consent and the District Plan limits. This was based off expert noise testing following implementation of noise management measures to date and was accepted by UHCC.

"This new issue was raised with us on 5 April. The report confirms that this is an intermittent noise, which is only impacting one property. We have urgently worked to find where this noise is coming from and to address it. Council have issued an abatement notice in relation to this new noise source. We are confident we will meet this deadline. Our temporary fix is already in place, but it still needs to be independently tested. We are in contact with the owner of the property impacted.

We deeply care about our neighbours, and we want them to know we are focused on making sure we fix this issue.”