Charity concert noise on a par with restaurant din, says expert

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 12:00am

At 80 decibels, the noise level was 'more of an irritant' than dangerous

The noise generated by a charity concert at Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday night was on a par with that produced by any busy dim sum restaurant, an acoustics expert claimed yesterday,

Li Kai-ming, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Acoustics and an associate professor at Polytechnic University's department of mechanical engineering, said the concert noise would have been 'more of an irritant than anything else'.

'I believe nearby residents would have had noise levels of up to 80 decibels, and that is quite a long way away from the dangerous 100 level, which is considered the threshold of pain [to the ears],' Dr Li said.

'Even in a very noisy restaurant we are talking about 70 to 80 decibels.'

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD), which is responsible for controlling noise pollution, said yesterday it had received 18 complaints about the noise from the event and 'promptly alerted the organiser whenever complaints were received'.

According to the EPD's criteria, the increase in noise for residents should not be more than 10 decibels above the usual background noise level, which is about 55 decibels for the area. But noise from Saturday's concert ranged from 68 to 74 decibels at Beverly Hill in Broadwood Road, to between 73 and 79 decibels at Fontana Gardens in Tai Hang Road.

But although noise levels exceeded the limits, the department said it had decided to 'exercise discretion'. A spokesman said: 'As the concert was for the good cause of raising money for the children of Sars victims, this one-off charity concert was held in the public interest.

'As such, we decided not to issue a noise abatement notice.'

Dr Li said the noise level recorded at a Celine Dion concert at the old Kai Tak airport site three years ago reached 98 decibels, but the site was considered preferable to Hong Kong Stadium because nearby residents were 'screened' from the concert noise by heavy traffic in the area.

He called on residents to be more understanding, considering that the concert was in aid of charity and was the first to be staged in many years. British pop band Depeche Mode was the last international act to perform at the venue in 1994.

'If it was every day or every other week I would agree [with complainants], but as it is for a good cause and a one-off event, maybe we should be more tolerant,' he said.