Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Construction Noise
Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) whether there has been an increase in complaints about construction noise near residential estates in the last three years; and (b) whether NEA can review the regulations to reduce noise from construction sites that are situated within 100 metres of residential estates.
1 The number of complaints on construction noise near residential areas was stable at around 800 per month on average from 2018 to February 2020, and rose to 1,160 in March 2020 when people started working from home. From April to July 2020, fewer than 400 complaints were received per month due to the Circuit Breaker and before full resumption of construction work. From August 2020 to May 2021, when construction activities fully resumed but with many people still working from home, the number of complaints increased to about 1,100 per month. Investigations established that around 11% of complaints in 2021 were attributed to cases where construction sites had breached the regulatory limits.
2 The Environmental Protection and Management (Control of Noise at Construction Sites) Regulations stipulate maximum permissible noise limits for construction sites, taking reference from the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. Construction sites that are situated less than 150 metres from residential buildings and noise-sensitive premises, such as hospitals, are subject to more stringent noise limits and are not allowed to carry out work on Sundays and Public Holidays.
3 To enforce the noise limits, noise meters are installed at the nearest residential or noise-sensitive premises from the construction site. This means construction sites located nearer to such premises have to implement more noise mitigation measures, to ensure that the noise levels experienced by residents remain within the permissible limits.
4 The approach to managing construction noise is reviewed regularly, taking into account industry and public feedback, international best practices, and our local context. In reviewing the regulation of noise from construction sites, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will take into account the increasing prevalence of people working from home, while balancing against the need to allow construction work to be completed within a reasonable duration and cost. NEA will continue looking into other means of encouraging construction companies to reduce their noise impact.