By Maureen Bishop
Heat forced the Ashburton County Scottish Society Pipe Band out of its hall and into the fresh air for practice this week, but that led to a disagreeable surprise.
On Monday night members were served an excessive noise direction notice and told to immediately reduce the noise to a reasonable level.
They were prohibited from causing or contributing to the emission of excessive noise from or within the vicinity of the hall for 72 hours.
Fortunately, band practice had finished about half an hour before.
Normally band members would be practising in the Pipe Band Hall – as it is known – at the corner of Creek Road and Queens Drive – a hall built with voluntary labour from band members back in the 1950s.
Pipe major Peter Doak said members had moved over to the Ashburton College grounds as the hall was so hot.
He said the district council staff member who served the notice said multiple complaints had been received, but band members do not know if it was one person complaining several times, or two or more people complaining.
The biggest worry for players was a clause at the bottom of the notice which says if they fail to comply with the notice they may have their instruments seized or made inoperable.
The Ashburton County Scottish Society Pipe Band was re-formed last year and has been performing at public functions and events, including Saturday’s Christmas parade.
Rick Catchpowle, the district council’s environmental monitoring manager, said a complaint of noise nuisance was received on Monday night from a concerned resident in the neighbourhood.
“On approaching the location, noise control officers could hear the bagpipes from Havelock Street and deemed the level to be excessive,” Mr Catchpowle said.
Under the Resource Management Act, excessive noise means any noise that is under human control and of such a nature as to unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort and convenience of any person. It may include noise emitted by a musical instrument, he said.
The noise control officer does not have to measure the decibel reading but can use experience to determine if the sound is excessive.
“As noted in this particular case the sound was deemed to be extremely loud and could be heard at Havelock Street.” The officer had told the players to reduce the noise.
Mr Catchpowle said it appeared the problem arose because the band had moved outside.
“If they play inside it hasn’t been a problem. The complainant was very approachable and we will be discussing the matter with all parties to see if we can reach agreement. It is still very much an open case and we will be taking all things into account.”