Review of construction noise limits to consider residents working from home: Desmond Tan

Review of construction noise limits to consider residents working from home: Desmond Tan

Construction site, workers in Singapore amid COVID-19 (1)
Rails and signs mark the borders of different work zones at a construction site in Sembawang. (Photo: Cheryl Lin) 

SINGAPORE: An ongoing review of construction noise limits will consider the post-COVID-19 situation in residential areas while ensuring projects are completed within budget and on time, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan told Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 14).

He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC Tan Wu Meng on when the construction noise limits and related penalties were last reviewed.

“My ministry regularly reviews the construction noise limits and penalty regime,” he said, noting that the penalties were last reviewed in 2014.

“For instance, NEA tightened the noise controls and implemented the no-work rule in 2011 to prohibit work activities at construction sites located within 150m of residential premises and noise-sensitive premises such as hospitals and nursing homes on Sundays as well as on public holidays.”

Mr Tan Wu Meng then asked if the current review will consider the post-COVID-19 environment, including those working or learning from home and the built density of HDB estates.

Some residents in Clementi were concerned about the noise from nearby construction sites during the ongoing examination season, he added.

In response, Mr Desmond Tan said the review will consider these factors, but also account for “costs as well as duration of the construction”.

“We will take into account the current as well as future conditions, and we have to work closely with the built environment and industry to ensure that whatever penalty regime as well as noise limits that are imposed have to protect public health, and at the same time ensure that our construction work continues to be completed within the time frame and costs stipulated,” he said.

Mr Tan also asked if the penalties could involve economic levers that apply to offending construction firms. Currently, contractors who violate the regulations can be fined up to S$40,000.

In response, the Minister of State said that the current penalties have been effective in reducing the number of complaints and enforcement actions over the years.

In 2019, the number of noise-related complaints per construction site was about 1.6, down from 2.7 in 2012, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). The number of enforcement actions has also dropped, from 1.6 to 0.8 for every 10 sites in the same time period.

“However, we will continue to look at how this penalty regime will have an impact on construction noise, and in particular, repeated offenders or construction sites that have been given the same warning over and over again,” he added.  

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the number of noise-related complaints in 2019 per construction site from 2.6 to 1.6. We apologise for the error.
Figures related to the fall in noise-related complaints and enforcement actions have also been updated, to reflect corrections made by NEA to the statement delivered by MOS Tan.
 

Source: CNA/hz(gs)

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