Is renovation work really more important than a peaceful life?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2007, 12:00am

Behind the superficial regrets expressed by Miranda Szeto of Swire Properties in 'Sorry for the noise' (March 24), her response to Amy Lau's complaint over renovation noise, the message seems clear: We're not going to do anything about it and we don't care.

Everywhere in Hong Kong people suffer acute distress as their homes are made uninhabitable, sometimes for weeks at a stretch, by the roar of drilling and hammering in their neighbourhood. Unfortunately the developers know they can get away with it because only a relatively small number of people are suffering the distress at any one time. They also know that, in a society where the right to renovate property is considered as sacred as life itself, the authorities will always favour their interests over those of the sufferers.

In most advanced countries renovation noise is not routinely allowed between 7am and 8am (the period during which Ms Szeto's company has nobly undertaken to reduce noise), nor is renovation standard practice on Saturdays.

Construction noise is not always regarded as inevitable, and the enhancement of shopping centres is not necessarily considered more important than the right to a peaceful life.

In expressing my deepest sympathy to Ms Lau, I would like to point out that none of us will get very far with solitary protests. With noise pollution, action will only be taken if enough people are prepared to press for it in a systematic manner. Let us hope that the excellent Civic Exchange and other local concern groups will consider including construction noise as part of their remit, so that a balance will be struck between the rights of individuals and those of corporations.

Philip Snow, Discovery Bay

I think the speed of construction here is very fast but corporations don't care how people feel. The government has set a rule that all construction companies start at 9am and finish at 6pm. But some construction companies abuse this. At the moment I'm being disturbed by building noise that starts at 7am. It's been going on for a week.

Varun Datta, Pok Fu Lam