(Courtesy of Press Website )
Published 24th February 2006
The letters received by this paper and news stories display a rare upsurge of community anger. Templeton residents are at the limits of endurance over car noise from Ruapuna Raceway – every day of the year, until late at night, and loud. The strength of their case is shown by the failure of anyone to challenge it seriously. The council is pretty much not talking and Ruapuna's supporters rely on two unpersuasive points – that the raceway was there before many of the complainants and that it operates within its resource consents. Neither point recognises that people's wellbeing comes before the letter of the law and prior possession. People are entitled to reasonable tranquility – especially when at home – and the track's noise prevents the enjoyment of that right.
The ideal solution would be for motorsport to shift its activities further out, but that would be expensive. Needed is a practical compromise that has the support of all – if a possible deal involving Fulton Hogan's purchase of the Ruapuna site and the profit-taking track owners shifting to secluded pastures does not come through.
A tightening of permitted noise levels and times of operation would ease residents' discomfort and let the racing fraternity keep their facility. It would not wholly satisfy either side, because the sport would be restricted when it is gaining popularity and some noise nuisance would continue. But compromise would improve living conditions for Templetonians and keep Ruapuna operating. It could be quickly brought about and avoid contentious hearings.
Someone needs to facilitate the compromise – a task the area's local body representatives are suited to. Sensibly, they have begun to do this by calling a meeting of interested parties and the city council. As well, the council has begun to get facts on the table as the result of noise monitoring.
This is welcome but unfortunately a voluntary compromise will probably not be brokered. Residents want car noise completely extinguished and Ruapuna's users are keen to expand their activities, rather than limit them. It is hard to see the sides agreeing on a solution. That means more argument, delay, noise and imposed controls – and then continued dissatisfaction.
Eventually motorsport will have to shift its track to a more isolated venue, as has happened before in Christchurch and is common with race tracks world wide. Car noise and housing do not mix. Intrusive, continuous and loud noise is torture.