$10 million NEA fund to help construction firms reduce noise levels at work sites

A new $10 million fund to help construction firms invest in quieter machines and noise control equipment with the aim of promoting a quieter living environment was announced by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday morning. -- ST FILE PHO
A new $10 million fund to help construction firms invest in quieter machines and noise control equipment with the aim of promoting a quieter living environment was announced by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday morning. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO

A new $10 million fund to help construction firms invest in quieter machines and noise control equipment with the aim of promoting a quieter living environment was announced by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday morning.

The move comes as the NEA revealed that complaints and public feedback on construction noise have been on the rise, averaging over 16,000 per year due to the growth in construction projects.

"As Singapore is a highly urbanised city, a balance needs to be struck between meeting residents' expectations for a quieter living environment and ensuring that construction can keep pace with the country's developments," the NEA said in a statement on Thursday.

The Quieter Construction Fund (QCF) will defray up to 50 per cent of the purchasing cost or the lease of noise-reducing hardware.

Some examples include perimeter noise barriers, which can reduce noise pollution by 5dBA to 10dBA, and construction equipment like jack-in piling machines, which generates about 20dBA less noise than traditionally-used bore piling machines.

The fund will be tapped from April 1 this year to the end of 2017. Firms can start applying for the fund from April 1 and applications will close on March 31, 2016.

The NEA said that the QCF, which was launched at the Quieter Construction Seminar at Construction House, will give firms an incentive to adopt quieter machines and noise control equipment, at a time where there are more residential and infrastructural developments in built-up areas.

The QCF is the latest of NEA's measures targeting the reduction of construction noise, and will complement existing schemes.

This includes an initiative in 2007 to impose a maximum permissible noise level, which differs from building to building. For instance, construction sites next to buildings such as hospitals and schools have a maximum permissible noise level of 60dBA from 7am to 7pm, compared to the 75dBA noise level cap at construction sites located within 150m of residential buildings.

Pointing to challenges faced by contractors, such as tight construction schedules and the labour crunch, president of the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (Scal) Dr Ho Nyok Yong said in his opening address: "To find a solution, NEA has been working closely with Scal, various government agencies and stakeholders to review existing regulations and explore new measures and technologies to better manage construction noise.

"Scal welcomes NEA's effort to incentivise our members to adopt quieter equipment and methods of construction."