Rock 'n' roll may not be noise pollution - as AC/DC assured us in 1980 - but Hong Kong's incessant drilling, hammering, grinding and clattering from every conceivable type of power tool certainly is.

From the major construction sites of Central to the ferry piers on the outlying islands and the remotest villages of the New Territories, there is no escape from the din: it's like a sort of post-modern Cantonese opera, performed in public around the clock.

In theory, the cacophony should be controlled by the Noise Control Ordinance, which allows for fines to be slapped on firms making construction noise between 7pm and 7am, and includes a provision for noise that is causing "annoyance to any person at night or on a general holiday".

So why is it so darn noisy? Maybe because the "ordinance" is undermined by the government handing out "noise permits" to firms who ask for them nicely. According to the Environmental Protection Department, few worry about a maximum HK$100,000 fine when they're busy knocking up multimillion-dollar developments.

Please don't tell me this is all just a part of living in a dynamic, developing urban landscape dependent on an active construction industry, though. People are at it in their own homes, too: I swear noise pollution is recreational. Going to the gym this Sunday? Nine holes of golf, perhaps? Why not try some gentle angle grinding on your balcony, instead?

Clearly it's time for an amnesty whereby reckless owners of industrial-grade power tools can hand them in to their local police station.

Never mind air pollution. I would quite happily tolerate stinging eyes and bronchial breathlessness for just a few precious minutes of peace and quiet.