About the port > Our Environment > Noise Management

The 24 hour operation of the Port is vital to the Nelson economy and that is why PNL works extremely hard at managing it's operations to minimise and reduce noise.

Noise Management

The 24 hour operation of the Port is vital to the Nelson economy however the operations at night can affect our close neighbours. Port Nelson has lodged a variation to the Nelson Resource Management Plan with the Nelson City Council, which provides a framework for mitigating noise in affected houses in the residential area and providing management of noise at source.

Work to acoustically treat houses and to reduce noise at source as far as is practicable is overseen by a Noise Liaison Committee made up of resident's representatives, port users, Nelson City Council and Port Nelson. Information on help available can be found in the leaflet Getting Help with Home Insulation.

A noise contour map identifies noise levels by location. Where noise is above designated levels the port funds acoustic treatment; for worst affected houses, an alternative option is for the company to buy homes, insulate them and resell with a proviso that owners understand the noise situation. Alongside these noise mitigation measures, Port Nelson continues to work to minimise noise generated by port operations. We have an ongoing awareness campaign with plant operators, noise emissions are a high priority in plant purchase policies, and we have modified some plant operating systems.

Best Practice Award for Port Nelson Noise Project

Media Release: 17 May 2012

NZPIAwardNelson City Council and Incite Planning Consultants have received the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) Best Practice Award for the Port Nelson Noise Project.

The Award recognises outstanding creativity, innovation and service in district and regional planning.

The Port Noise project involved finding a solution through the Resource Management Act process that allows the Port to keep operating while nearby residents get a good night's sleep. The success of the project is seen in the number of complaints about port noise dropping from 73 in 2003 to just 10 in 2011.

Councillor Mike Ward, Policy and Planning Co Portfolio holder says "Developing a solution has taken 10 years of work and wouldn't have been possible without the commitment of Port Nelson Ltd to the process and the residents who have put their energy into making the Port Nelson Liaison Committee work effectively. It really has been a team effort."

The Port Noise Variation departs from the traditional method of 'noise at boundary controls' and instead places incentives for the Port operator to actively reduce its noise through a Port Noise Management Plan, and for it to also mitigate the noise effects by having to insulate, and in some cases purchase, the most affected residential properties.

NZPI highlighted that a key success of the project was the process which encouraged active participation by the key players. The Port operator was proactive in developing an initial draft Variation, and it has since been actively reducing noise and insulating the houses most affected. The residents are part of a Port Noise Liaison Committee which plays an important role in day-to-day operations.

The Awards Panel commended the Nelson Port Noise Project for developing and implementing an incentive based approach addressing the needs of a significant infrastructure asset whilst also maintaining the amenity of nearby residents. The Panel considered the project to be an excellent example of how meaningful consultation and engagement can lead to a far greater level of buy-in and goodwill than through a contested Resource Management Act process.

Contact: Richard Johnson, Activing Chief Executive, phone 546 0242.

Noise Management Plan

The Port Nelson Noise Management Plan sets out the long term commitment of Port Nelson Limited to the management and minimisation of Port Noise from port related activities. The Noise Management Plan has been developed in accordance with the Commissioner's recommendation on the Port Noise Variation of the Nelson Resource Management Plan. Click below to view the latest Port Nelson Management Plan.

Port Nelson Noise Management Plan

Port Nelson Mitigation Plan

The Noise Mitigation Plan outlines how the properties located on the Port Nelson Noise Contour Map can be mitigated from port noise. This is provided on a three tier basis as follows:

  • Stage One - these are properties that are identified as predicted to receive Port Noise at 65 dBA Ldn and above. Properties within this line are obviously the most affected by noise, and the Mitigation Plan requires Port Nelson to offer to purchase, or provide acoustic insulation and ventilation, as appropriate, at its own cost, to all existing dwellings which do not currently meet an Indoor Design Level in living areas and bedrooms ("habitable spaces") of 40 dBA Ldn. If acoustic treatment is chosen the Port Operator is not required to spend more on effecting that option than 50% of the value of the house concerned in the 65 dB Ldn and above category. If a compulsory purchase is elected by the property owner, the purchase price is to be market value as established by an independent valuation process.

  • Stage Two – these are properties located on the current Port Noise Contour Map as being predicted to receive 60 dBA Ldn and above and less than 65 dBA Ldn. the Port Operator must offer to contribute up to 50% of the cost of acoustic insulation and ventilation, as appropriate, of all existing dwellings which do not already meet the Indoor Design Level in habitable spaces (40 dBA Ldn).

  • Stage Three Properties outside the 60 dBA Ldn line, but within a third line modelled at 55 dBA Ldn, are not the subject of a compulsory insulation and ventilation protocol. However, the Port Noise Liaison Committee is to provide technical advice to the owners of these properties within this area on noise levels and possible noise mitigation including acoustic insulation and ventilation. The Port Operator may offer to contribute up to 50% of the cost of acoustic treatment, assessed on a case by case basis, on the recommendation of the Port Noise Liaison Committee.

Port Noise Liaison Committee

The Port Noise Liaison Committee (PNLC) was established on 5 March 2009 when the Nelson City Council adopted the Commissioners' recommended decisions on Variation 07/01 (Port Noise) to the Nelson Resource Management Plan. The committee is made up of an independent chairperson, three members appointed by the PNL, and three members appointed by residents living in the Port Hills residential area.

The PNLC meets on average every three months to consider all noise issues arising from the port operation, and provides an interface between the residents of the Port Hills residential area, and the Port operator. The minutes of committee meetings held over the previous 12 months are found below:

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 09/08/17

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 07/09

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 09/09

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 11/09

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 02/10

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 03/10

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 08/11

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 04/12

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 08/12

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 10/12

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 03/13

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 06/13

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 12/13

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 03/14

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 06/14

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 12/14

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 02/15

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 05/15

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 08/15

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 12/15

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 08/16

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 02/17

PNLC Meeting Minutes - 05/07

Summary of minutes of the Port Nelson Noise Liaison Committee meetings over the last two years.

Basic Information about Port Noise

What is a Noise Model?

A noise model is a computer based program that is set up to predict the emission of noise. Port Nelson Ltd, in conjunction with acoustic experts, has developed a noise model for the port area. The model has been calibrated against recorded measurements in the field, so that the model can be used to accurately predict noise levels from port and ship operations.


Location of Noise Monitoring Stations

  • Base: Residence
  • 1: Seafood Research
  • 2: Residence
  • 3: Residence
  • 4: Mt. Pleasant Hairpin
  • 5: Residence

A comparison of the modelled results with the measured results during monitoring verified that the model developed for Port Nelson is able to closely predict the noise received at localities close to the noise sources.

However, further away from the noise source the model was less able to predict the noise environment due to contamination from other (non-port) residents living near the port is required to be maintained through the resource management process.



Noise Monitoring Results

The Port Company undertakes noise monitoring of specific sites in the surrounding environment between April and June. This is a busy period in the year for the port, being the height of the fruit season. The monitoring locations are shown below and this information helped to verify the model.


Noise Peaks

Noise peaks (noise of short duration such as passing trucks, clangs from containers being placed on the wharf), were measured from monitoring location 3, with container vessels and break-bulk vessels operating at Brunt Quay.

 Contributions to Noise Peaks

The measurements from this monitoring show that:

  • Typically the sources of noise recorded from the port were container bangs from cranes and forklifts picking up and placing containers
  • Other noises included engines revving/whirring, voices on loud speakers and horns
  • The greatest number of noise peaks (measured by Lmax) from the port related to clangs from forklift activity (60%) and were located in the storage areas
  • Contribution of noise peaks from the activity of ships' cranes and Liebherr Cranes was lower at 14% or elss, but the activities of Liebherr Cranes were noisier than ships' cranes.

It should also be noted that there are other noise sources unrelated to the port which contribute to noise peaks from time to time. Examples include road noise, which accounted for at least 20% of the total noise peaks.

Contribution to Noise Peaks from Port Activities Only (as monitoring locations)


Noise over a 24 Hour Period (24hr Ldn)

The 24hr Ldn is used to show the level of noise during a whole 24 hour period. The main conclusions from monitoring at site number 3 were that:

  • Over a 24 hour day, periods in which container/lolo (load-on load-off) vessels and/or roro (roll-on roll-off) vessels were operating were the noisiest. This included noise associated with loading and unloading, fans and generators, for this monitoring site and period monitored.
  • Periods in which fish and fuel vessels were in port were not markedly different than when no ships were in port for this monitoring site and period monitored.
  • The greater the number of vessels the higher the noise level for this monitoring site and period monitored

Overall, the site specific monitoring confirmed that the major sources of noise at the port is from fork-lift and crane operations in association with container and Roro vessels.

What has the Port done to reduce noise?

Like all other activities, the port company and port users have a responsibility to minimise the noise they produce. During the 1990's, Port Nelson Ltd invested millions of dollars in property purchases to enable the relocation of the log storage areas further away from the adjoining residential areas. Just some of the measures taken to reduce noise in the past 10 years are listed below:

• 1994: The loudspeaker system at Sealords banned 7pm-6 am; on Vessels 10pm-6am.

• 1995: Issues register initiated.

• 1996: Log loading operations moved away from residential boundary with the major storage shift away from Haven Road in 1999 and improving the storage adjacent to Kingsford Quay in 2002.

• 1997: Operational procedures determined to minimise the noise from the wood chip loading.

• 1998: Audible alarm removed from big Liebherr Crane.

• 1999: Pressure reducers added to the high stacking forklift to slow the initial lift movement and hence reduce the clanging sound when the lifting mechanism contacts the container.

• 2000: All specifications for mobile plant require a modification that adds a strobe light to replace the auto-backing-beeper when the lights are turned on for night operations.

• 2001: Operating procedures issued to log truck operators to remove the clanging between lowered bolsters and the steel frame of the truck.

• 2002: Work with a major shipping company to quieten noisy generators on their ships.

• 2003: Awareness campaign for port noise initiated with staff; intensive noise monitoring programme on ground, April, May, June.

• 2004-5: Log operations moved further from residential areas to land formerly used for chip operation and NelMAC yard.

• 2005: Noise Variation lodged

• 2007: Noise Liaison Committee established

• 2009: New 'spreader' for container lifter noise reduction systems

• 2009: First 3 houses acoustically insulated. Purchase of 3 most affected houses

• 2009: Commissioner Hearing Decision released

• 2009: New Port Noise Liaison Committee established

• 2010: Continuous Noise Monitor installed and calibrated

• 2010: Port Noise Mitigation Plan ratified

• 2011: Port Noise Liaison Committee resident representative election held

• 2011: Port Noise Management Plan ratified

• 2012: Port Noise Variation operative