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Runway means more noise, poll reveals

South China Morning Post – 18 July 2011

Green group took readings on roofs and found noise levels similar to a busy road

The severe noise pollution caused by aircraft flying throughout the night across north Lantau and the New Territories will get worse if a third runway is built, say concerned residents.

The average noise level of planes passing over Ma Wan, Sham Tseng and Tsuen Wan between 11pm and 3am throughout the week hit about 70 decibels, similar to the level of a busy road, according to a survey conducted by Green Sense last week. The readings were taken on the roofs of residential buildings.

The environmental group claimed the survey was first of its kind carried out by a non-governmental body.

“With the present noise problem unresolved, it is unreasonable to construct a third runway and expand the noise pollution affected area,” said Jan Lai Ming-chuen, vice-president of Green Sense.

As the proposed third runway would be built in Chek Lap Kok north, it was expected that Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun residents would also have to bear with loud aircraft noise, said Professor Chan King-ming, director of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s environmental sciences programme. He suggested the government expand existing runways instead.

Residents of Ma Wan complained that aircraft noise had become more severe, disturbing their sleep and forcing them to keep their windows shut most of the time.

“How can you sleep peacefully with noise like a busy road next to you?” said Lam Wai-man, chairman of the owners’ committee of Park Island private housing estate in Ma Wan. He said the noise was loud enough to shake a ceiling.

In 1999, a year after the Hong Kong International Airport started operation, there was only one case of aircraft noise above 80 decibels recorded at night over Ma Wan throughout the year. In 2007, the number of cases had jumped to more than 300, said Lam, citing Civil Aviation Department figures.

Ma Wan was not included in the area affected by aircraft noise “beyond acceptable level”, according to the Airport Authority. However, the assessment was made in 1998.

The Airport Authority said last night it had a noise ceiling for the airport and so far the levels were below that standard. The authority met residents’ representatives in Ma Wan in July and agreed to set up a group to look at ways of further reducing the noise.

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