Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Vehicular Noise Limits
Miss Rachel Ong: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether legal vehicular noise limits in residential areas can be lowered from the current 103 decibels in order to be made comparable to the 75-decibel limit for construction sites near residential areas.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) is committed to minimising noise nuisance from vehicles and construction sites to protect public health. NEA sets noise emission standards for vehicles and maximum permissible noise limits for construction sites under the Environmental Protection and Management Act.
The noise limits for vehicles and construction sites are not directly comparable. First, the vehicular noise limit applies to the loudest noise emitted by a vehicle. In comparison, the construction noise limits apply to the average sound level measured over longer time durations (five minutes, one hour or 12 hours), as construction noise from a site can be sustained over a longer period of time.
Second, vehicular noise measurement is undertaken at source (i.e. at the tailpipe), while noise from construction sites is measured at the receptor (i.e. at the façade of the nearest residential building), given the range of construction activities and equipment operating in a construction site at any point in time.
NEA regularly reviews the noise emission standards to keep pace with the latest international standards. Infrastructural measures also help to mitigate noise emissions. For example, for expressways near residential areas, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) works with the National Parks Board to line the expressways with dense planting, which act as screens that absorb light and noise from roads. LTA is also studying the feasibility of other noise mitigation measures such as low-noise pavement mix for roads and vertical noise barriers. When there is public feedback on noisy vehicles, agencies will work together to address the feedback, including carrying out enforcement actions.