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Proposed noise law ‘difficult to enforce’

Hong Kong, 15 August 2023: Education is more effective than legislation when it comes to keeping a lid on noise in vibrant Hong Kong, BC&C Senior Partner Colin Cohen has told radio listeners.

Colin was a guest on RTHK Radio 3’s Backchat to discuss government proposals to amend the Noise Control Ordinance (Cap 400) to curb the use of loudspeakers by shops and hawkers for peddling, introduce a fixed penalty system and adjust maximum fines.

“We live in a crowded, vibrant city of more than seven million people, there is bound to be noise and tensions that arise as a result. I think education and trying to encourage people to keep noise levels down is far better than legislation and fixed penalties,” Colin told presenters Danny Gittings and Mike Rowse.

He noted the proposed legislation targeted a specific group of citizens and asked: “Is there really a significant problem here?” As for the suggestion that the fixed penalties – set at HK$10,000 “to enhance the deterrent effect”, according to the government – could be extended to domestic premises, Colin thought this would be difficult to enforce.

He added: “Of course, the major noise issue in Hong Kong is construction, this is what really affects people’s mental health. Obviously, you need old buildings to be knocked down and new ones constructed, but some sites, especially those operated by smaller firms, do not have effective noise barriers. The proposed legislation does not address construction work.”

Aside from limiting the use of loudspeakers, the government is also proposing to relax restrictions on noise resulting from certain festivals, allowing activities held in places of public entertainment to continue after 11:00pm under specific conditions. It has launched a two-month public consultation on its proposals.

Colin’s fellow guests on the programme were clinical psychologist Dr Quratulain Zaidi and events professional Robert Rogers.

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