What's Involved with a concert Fireworks & Helicopters Joint EPNA-EPTB Newsletter
February - Appeal Decision
Council's decision to grant Eden Park a consent for up to six concerts per year, is deeply flawed.
It has set higher noise levels for Eden Park than Mt Smart, which is located in an industrial area. The 10 minute noise level is 50% louder than at Mt Smart.
It has created a concert venue, which in our opinion will not work for anyone.
Be they locals exposed to unreasonable noise levels, or local businesses trying to trade through those noise levels, or deal with new health and safety obligations. Or indeed for concert goers, who in our view will soon realise it doesn't provide the atmosphere or sound quality of Mt Smart or Western Springs, and promoters who may struggle to achieve any gains on the venues they use currently in Auckland.
Eden Park's traffic, parking and commuter disruption will affect many, and again create a far worse situation if concerts are staged there than at Auckland's other venues.
Ratepayers will lose vital income from Council's own venues, while Auckland will not gain additional concerts. This will just move Six60 from Council-owned Western Springs to Eden Park - a private trust.
And in our view, promoters will likely struggle with it as a venue, with its restrictions and risks.
As a venue it may work for some VIPs and corporate box holders, but even a third of those are likely to see their corporate boxes unusable with no views of the stage.
And Council has allowed sport to be displaced by not providing any protection in the consent. The summer concert season will impact on the ability of Auckland Cricket to stage its schedule of matches at Eden Park and they may already be looking at alternatives, and concerts will also likely impact on the Blue's pre and early-season Super Rugby fixtures.
Council, in this decision has failed to address the adverse effects, and have misunderstood the economic reality of this decision. They have provided no mitigation for noise levels that at times will likely reach those of pre RMA Western Springs.
Can anyone imagine establishing Western Springs now without double glazing the adjacent houses?
So how did this happen?
As a group which has supported sporting activity, but consistently opposed concerts at Eden Park, we have faced a years-long media and political campaign, that will have run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Eden Park have also reneged on a previous agreement not to apply again for concerts, when we supported the increase in the number of night games at the time of planning for the RWC 2011 upgrades to the park.
Council's recent new $54m 10 year credit facility to Eden Park, along with its $9.8m grant, will no doubt have helped free up funds for this campaign. It has also placed Council in a conflicted situation with respect of Eden Park, which has not been helped by incorrect political comments regarding the planning framework for Eden Park.
We have been faced with the appearance that Council has supported Eden Park's concert ambitions, despite the consenting and planning history and the effects of concerts, and of the financial risks to its own Council-Controlled Organisations.
As Eden Park Trust Chair, Doug McKay's
(former Auckland Council CEO) noted in Eden Park's recently published annual
We are still puzzled why just four years ago, effectively the same proposal was put to the Unitary Plan hearing panel, consisting of an Environment Court Judge, and four Independent Commissioners, and was declined due to lack of mitigation. Yet somehow it has succeeded under the current Council.
By not selecting planning commissioners with the required noise, traffic or social impacts expertise that was needed, Auckland Council has not helped achieve the balance that was needed to consider such a contentious application.
However, while there are very strong grounds to appeal this decision, the reality is that it would come with a potential exposure to costs of several hundred of thousand dollars, which would need to be raised very quickly and is beyond the reach of community groups such as ours. Unfortunately, the RMA is a process often influenced by the dollars available, and not the effects' outcomes, as it was intended.
Therefore, regrettably we're not in a position to appeal the decision.
We will therefore now move from the applicant's and Council's theoretical "expert" based views to the actual reality of concerts in an unsuitable venue and location.
People will now be able to understand how misleading the spin around a "maximum of 75dB" actually was. They will see, and understand the lack of critical analysis undertaken by Council staff, experts and commissioners.
The vast majority of those in the noise impact zone, who either opposed, missed getting a submission in during the covid level 4 lock down, or were neutral, will now see the true impacts that Eden Park and their supporters have imposed on the area. This will, sadly, include the inability of many to function normally at home - to watch TV, talk, concentrate, and of course sleep, when concerts are being packed-in, sound checked, performed and then packed out.
Local businesses will see first-hand the noise levels, and what they mean in reality - along with the unprecedented full capacity mid-week peak traffic effects. They will see what their Business Associations supported, and we leave them to check the due diligence they undertook on their behalf.
And the wider traveling public will see how inappropriate Eden Park is for mid-week concerts, when they experience the impacts on the region's transport networks including train, bus and car movements.
As an association, we are comfortable and confident that we have done the research and presented the real impacts to the hearing, and to our local community, although we were hampered by the level 4 lockdown, and its impacts on our ability to communicate with members and local residents.
It is now down to Council to enforce its consent fully - unlike its past performance regarding Eden Park. But there also remain both RMA and non-RMA mechanisms for the local community to ensure the effects are mitigated.
Consent Noise limits - at the boundary of a residential site
Mt Smart and Western Springs have short 5min timeframes where the average within that can not exceed 75 and 82 dBA.
Eden Park's 75dBA limit is for "t" - the time duration is the entire length of the concert which must average no more than 75 dBA over the whole concert.
It allows for multiple no noise /0 dBA periods of up to 15min each time to be included in the average. So, changes between support acts, and lower levels between songs lower the overall average - thus allowing other periods to exceed 75dBA. It also allows for manipulation of start times and quiet periods to provide for greater dBA later.
The comparative Eden Park noise limit is the 80dBA as an average over 10 min period. As twice as long, it likely covers multiple songs, and again includes quieter periods between songs thus allowing greater than 80 dBA for periods within the 10min.
80 dBA is 50% louder to the ear than 75
January - Decision Update
As we expected, the panel has granted the concert consent.
In our opinion it is a flawed decision, and flies in the face of the evidence presented, and a lot of hoops were jumped through to get Council's desired result.
The decision puts in place noise levels which are higher and more relaxed than industrial based Mt Smart! To then conclude that the effects of concert noise (eg greater than 80 db(A)), have in any way been avoided or mitigated, is frankly bizarre. Mitigation was a clear requirement of the Unitary Plan - but the proper planning test hasn't been applied. These noise levels are 4 to 5 times higher than currently, and have no mitigation eg double glazing etc. They could happen over four consecutive mid-week nights.
And with the scale of concerts meaning they take over the entire facility, they also clearly will displace primary activities, including rugby and cricket.
The reasoning laid out in the decision was selective and placed undue preference on the applicant's experts - especially in the crucial area of noise effects - where they have, for some reason, accepted the applicant's noise expert's view of noise effects, in variance to three other noise experts, who agreed on the real effects.
The decision relies on adherence to noise limits by third parties, and where the applicant's own noise models showed a concert would be right up to those limits - allowing no safety margin and creating ongoing enforceability issues for Council.
Many conditions rely on third parties and have little enforceability. To determine that traffic and parking effects for full capacity concerts starting at 6.30pm mid-week, can be mitigated just by the fact Auckland Transport (AT) have a traffic plan, is laughable given that AT's current full capacity traffic plan closes two arterial roads and re-routes buses, and has never run for a 6.30pm mid-week event.
AT didn't present evidence - for example a likely traffic and parking plan. They only provided an early letter to the applicant in which it wanted it noted that they could not guarantee resources for mid-week concerts - for the panel to grant consent without requesting further detailed evidence from AT, such as impacts on the new CRL train network and capacity impacts at peak, was frankly incomprehensible - but consistent with Council's approach.
The decision confirms the various management plans must only try and mitigate concert effects on residential amenity "as far as is practicable" - leaving them meaningless and impotent - and unenforceable. But also, it is interesting that the concert management plans do not have to mitigate impacts on local businesses.
The panels acceptance of an "expert" promoter's (with a vested interest ie being able to play off competing alternate venues) view that additional concerts would come to Auckland was again highly questionable - when weighed up against the actual factual evidence of the very busy last three years of concerts in Auckland, and the lack of actual evidence of any previously missed concerts, which could not have been hosted at Council's venues.
The lack of critical thinking and proper questioning of witnesses was disappointing, but can be remedied in the Environment Court, where proper scrutiny is available via cross examination.
It says a lot about this Council and its regulatory processing that an almost identical proposal failed when put before the Unitary Plan panel, consisting of an Environment Court judge and Independent Commissioners. And who then clearly highlighted the proposal had no adequate proposed mitigation, and hence the requirement under the Unitary Plan for mitigation for concerts - clearly lacking in this consent.
November Hearing update
Regarding the key issue of noise, further information came out just prior to, and during the hearing itself. Our concerns that Eden Park's modelling did not reflect concerts in the real world were confirmed by an industry expert (for Eden Park), who agreed that speaker array heights should be higher, and sound desks further back.
However, when Eden Park revised their model and retested for the new heights (which remain lower than the norm), and at a lower 100dBA internally, they somehow found less noise escape than in the first, so they were still able to meet the 75dB(A). These results were not questioned by the commissioners.
Another expert, when questioned by a Commissioner, confirmed that the "main" act would have a louder noise level setup than support acts - and made a comment thirty seconds later that the support Acts would still need the 100dB level for general sound quality for the audience. The Commissioner failed to respond or query the likely main act level. This was indicative of the approach the panel took during the hearing.
The noise levels also kept changing. This was partly due to a puzzling lack of technical detail in the original application, for example, there was no "time interval" analysis matching other Auckland venues. During the hearing process a new 80dB(A) L10 (minutes) was introduced. 80dB(A) is 50% louder than 75dB(A). An average over a 10-minute period allows noise to exceed the 80db(A), if offset by quiet or no music periods. Furthermore, a 75dB(A) is now proposed to be averaged over the length of the entire concert. This means that periods of low or no noise levels, for example between acts, will lower the average significantly and therefore allow sound levels to go substantially above 75 dB(A) for the remainder.
Those new levels contrast to Eden Park's local flyer at notification - which stated a "a strict noise limit of 75dB at residential zone boundary” - not even the "A" weighted which discounts low frequency levels. Eden Park have moved well beyond that assurance.
Those submitting in support rarely covered effects and were much more general and simply effusive about how great Eden Park is. Many displayed a lack of understanding of the basic noise issues and how distorted local listening would be.
Also, many "locals" were outside the noise impact area, as we see below, with large numbers to the south and over in Kingsland protected by the ridge. However, these submitters wanted to impose concerts on those much closer and in the noise impacted areas.
In contrast, submitters opposed presented likely effects on their personal situations (e.g. shift working/on call Doctor, elderly housebound etc) and on their properties and related these to the effects from concerts. The proportion opposed in the noise impacted area was very substantial.
Below we have Council's submitters map (red = opposed) overlaid on the noise map, for the inner area. Opposing slightly understated with map errors and PO boxes.
And below we see the orange stars for opposing submissions, concentrated in or near the purple noise impacted, and the extended wider area showing the greater level of support for those not impacted by noise.
In the end the key point was that three noise experts (Council, EPNA and an academic noise expert) basically agreed on what the proposed noise levels would mean to those nearby - that is, the inability to watch TV, talk, concentrate, and of course sleep. The only one to differ was Eden Park's expert who based his view on the idea that by closing windows and doors, people could somehow achieve a 25-30dB reduction - via villa sash windows! An estimate our expert disagreed with.
The Eden Park expert seemed to view it as just a matter of "annoyance", and related to an individual's attitude to the particular music, or their attitude to Eden Park - as opposed to the physical effects of the noise levels.
One very surprising part of the hearing process was how Council did not have its Social Impacts expert in attendance. This was peculiar given the panel had only legal and planning expertise. It meant that the expert couldn't listen to submitters and the expanded evidence, nor update any closing expert opinions to the panel - as Council's noise and traffic were able to do.
You can find all the evidence at the link below. EPNA's evidence with background from other venues, such as travel patterns, and crowd issues around drugs and medical treatments, along with our experts' evidence, has its own folder.
* Keep cricket at Eden Park,
* Keep early season Blues games here,
* Protect the No2 from being sold/developed.
Protecting your residential amenity also protects Eden Park's fine sporting tradition.
Within 1 Km
of Mt Smart – only 93 houses
Within 1Km of Eden Park – 4000 dwellings
Update re submissions. There was a lot of misinformation around submission numbers and support / opposition. Having now gone through submissions and removed the out of area ones (even as far as Wanaka!) we see that the majority of local submissions opposed the concert proposal.
Eden Park Trust have indicated they will withdraw their concert application.
One again it’s worth looking at the whole process/project:
· Sir Avery chose the day/date for his charity concert and chose a venue where
concerts aren’t permitted.
· Eden Park has no noise limits worked out in the Unitary Plan for concerts.
· Eden Park has tried and failed to get concerts multiple times.
· Eden Park put in an application without a noise limit
· Eden Park applied to work all through the concert night/next day on dismantling.
· Eden Park provided no details on pack in/pack out noise.
· Eden Park used noise models lower than Forsyth Barr.
Mt Smart has 39 corporate boxes, and a lounge for almost 1000. It also has numerous other areas
eg athletic track and fields for other activities.
Update 24 July 2018
There have been a number of incorrect media statements recently.
It’s worth returning to the big picture.
· Sir Avery
chose the day/date for his charity concert and chose a venue where
Over the last few months there has also been a stream of assertions that Eden Park use to underpin the need for concerts.
A half Billion $ asset. – costs/revaluations to date are $ 268m - that’s the value invested to date by rugby and cricket and the government. They have a $442m insured replacement but that’s irrelevant.
Can’t repay debts
In the last 3 years they have repaid loans of almost $3m (Loans: $52.3m in 2015, down to $49.5m as at Oct 2017). And they still have $2.3m in term investments. Most of these loans were due to extra things the Trust wanted from the RWC redevelopment eg new East stand, above that funded by the government.
They made a $4m profit last year before depreciation.
Apart from major sporting events, they undertake numerous other sporting events eg No 2/training facilities etc.
They also hold 1000 functions a year, many of which a large school balls, corporate functions. And of course full daily use as offices. It is an intensively used site, and therefore had appropriate planning rules.
Will be state housing
This scare tactic was used in the “push” survey.
Factually, there is no existing proposed CBD alternative that would see Eden Park closed. And that if the region and sports codes backed a CBD option, it won’t be for another 10-15 years. Regardless of concerts. In fact if Eden Park get concerts it will reduce Council revenue, and increase our rates.
BUT – there would need to be a proper plan change done to the Unitary Plan for new uses. This would be open to submissions, appeals etc. With a large site like this, it would get a proper coordinated plan.
At any rate as a local community, we would have a say via a Unitary Plan change.
These assertions have taken hold with some people, so worth the actual facts above.
Eden Park makes 6th attempt for concerts at Eden Park
Put your submission in this week - follow link below - click make a submission
Submissions close 5pm 12 July.
Update: some people were unaware this isn’t just a one-off, but part of full concert push -these links show EP intention, prior to meeting Sir Avery, and Council view after moving speedway (allow more concerts at Eden Park):
Eden Park want to be "concert central". This could mean 6 concerts or more a year. To start this they have applied for a "charity" themed concert.
The application highlights their continued belief that they should have no constraints, by having no noise limit.
By applying without a noise limit, they appear to want to ignore the residential constraints and to run an event at whatever set up and noise level they want - regardless of impacts on the neighbourhood.
• This time is worse with no
proposed noise limit
• Concerts are loud! 964m from Mt Smart, they record 50% more than now at
Eden Park have applied before - declined by Independent Commissioners and Environment Court Judge. As part of the increase in night games from 16 to 25, they withdrew concerts and assured Council, the Environment Court and ourselves they would concentrate on sport and not concerts. Previous applications at least had a noise level limit proposed - albeit at a level deemed unacceptable - this one does not.
While linked to a charity, the event itself looks fully commercial, and it doesn't detail charity funding sources. Given the charity hasn't confirmed/signed the artist, telethon parts etc, there is a very real chance that if the event doesn't go ahead after gaining consent, Eden Park Trust could keep and vary the consent (likely non-notified) to a later concert of their choosing. So relying on the "charity" element as justification, comes with risks.
• Application understates noise levels. Only
uses 2 speaker arrays, with wrong location
• Should have used 4-6 speaker arrays / some
angled towards houses, height near the
• And relay tower speakers hung from cranes
part way down ground, and possibly
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Protecting your residential amenity also protects Eden Park's fine sporting tradition.