Jennifer McVeigh (read my bio) and Anne Crittall have analysed this case and conclude that it provides a practical insight into the difficulty of dealing with a noisy industrial neighbour. It also provides a useful summary of the general principles regarding interlocutory injunction applications.
The applicant, Sean Rose Holdings Pty Ltd (complainant) and the respondent, LWP Technologies Ltd (plant operator) occupied adjoining properties in an industrial estate at Clontarf. The complainant operated a car wrecking yard from its premises. In 2015 the plant operator built a proppant manufacturing pilot plant on its leased premises which was developed to test and validate the viability of 'flyash-based proppant'; a granular material used in shale oil and gas projects.
The complainant complained about the noise emanating from three large, external extraction fans which operated while the plant was in use. The plant operator implemented noise abatement works at the time of the original installation and on two subsequent occasions. The latest works followed the receipt of a Direction Notice pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld).
The complainant brought an application for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the plant operator from causing an environmental nuisance from noise emissions caused by the plant. The director of the complainant claimed that the noise was unbearable for him and his staff, and had taken a toll on him physically and mentally. He also stated that the noise had affected his business, with customers leaving the premises because they were unable to endure the noise.
The plant operator argued that if the injunction were granted it would likely result in the plant operator closing and moving its factory which would lead to significant loss of income for the plant operator and could negatively impact the plant operator's share price and market capitalisation; and may lead to the termination of the employment of 10 employees.
The court refused the application for an interlocutory injunction.
Ann Lyons J held that although the complainant had established a prima facie case against the plant operator, the balance of convenience did not favour the grant of the injunction as the granting of an interlocutory injunction may in effect determine the matter. Her Honour found that the detriment that might be suffered by the plant operator outweighed the inconvenience or injury which the complainant would suffer if the injunction was refused