ELEVENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER NOT ANSWERED BY 3PM
TUESDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2008
NOISE FROM CONSTRUCTION SITES (Number of Complaints)
Dr Lam Pin Min:
To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what is the number of complaints received on noise pollution as a result of increased construction activities in both commercial and residential developments over the past 3 years; (b) whether there are existing regulations to curb noise generated from construction works; (c) whether there are any restrictions on the time of the day for construction work to take place; and (d) what measures does the Ministry have in place should errant contractors repeatedly violate existing regulations on noise control.
Assoc Prof Dr Yaacob Ibrahim:
The National Environment Agency (NEA) regulates noise from construction sites through the Environmental Protection and Management (Control of Noise at Construction Sites) Regulations. Under the Regulations, maximum allowable noise limits for construction sites are prescribed for different time periods of the day and for different types of premises affected by the construction noise. For example, the night-time noise limits are stricter than the day-time noise limits, and the allowable noise level is also stricter for construction sites near to schools and hospitals.
The number of complaints on construction noise received by the NEA has increased from 6,160 in 2006 to 9,228 in 2007. For the first ten months of this year, 11,327 complaints were received.
One of the reasons for this increase, as Dr Lam has pointed out, could be the corresponding increase in construction activity in Singapore. For instance, the number of construction sites increased from about 5,000 in 2006 to about 6,100 in 2007. Another factor could be higher expectations from our public for a quieter environment. To meet these expectations and ensure that construction activity does not unduly affect the quality of life in Singapore, NEA had in October 2007 further tightened the permissible construction noise limits during night-time and on Sundays and public holidays.
To ensure that its regulatory controls continue to be an effective deterrent, NEA has increased the maximum fine for construction noise violations from $20,000 to $40,000 with effect from October 2007. NEA also takes action against errant contractors that repeatedly violate the permissible noise limits, by issuing work restriction orders to restrict the operation hours at their construction sites.
I would like to assure the House that NEA investigates all complaints against construction noise. Members of the public can call the NEA hotline at 1800-CALL-NEA (1800-2255-632) at any time. After a complaint is received, NEA will send officers down to the construction site to investigate the complaint, and will inform the complainant of NEA’s findings. Contractors found to have exceeded the noise limits will be fined, with work restriction orders imposed on recalcitrant offenders. Where the noise levels are found to be within the regulated limits, NEA would still advise the contractors to limit their activities during noise-sensitive periods. For example during school examination periods, NEA would advise contractors to liaise with the nearby schools and limit their construction work during the examination period, where possible.
Singapore is a highly urbanized and compact city with vibrant economic activities, and noise pollution cannot be eradicated completely. My Ministry and NEA will continue to work with the relevant agencies and industry stakeholders to regularly review the regulatory framework for construction noise, taking into account public concerns and feedback, and also international best practices.