Council rumblings over impact assessment report; likely noise levels may be higher than estimated District councillors yesterday urged the Environmental Protection Department to reject an environment impact assessment on the proposed Sheung Wan heliport expansion, saying the estimate of the likely noise level was too low. The Democratic Party councillors are also worried about the effect on 10,000 nearby residents after nightly landings on the proposed pad - on the roof of the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry pier near the Shun Tak Centre - are more than doubled. The Civil Aviation Department submitted the assessment report, completed by Maunsell Environmental Management Consultants in August, to the councillors this week. Approval from the Environmental Protection Department is needed before the project can go ahead in the middle of next year. The government plans to build a 1,764-square-metre helipad adjacent to the current 885-square-metre helipad, which caters for helicopters travelling between Hong Kong and Macau. It says the new helipad will be able to meet the demand for helicopter trips between Hong Kong and Macau to 2015. The assessment found that the average noise level between 7pm and 11pm would be about 65 decibels and the maximum noise level between 8am and 7pm would be 85 decibels. The consultant said in the report that the estimated noise levels comply with the current legislation. But Central and Western District councillor Kam Nai-wai said the estimated average noise level at night could lead to a wrong conclusion about the impact on local residents. 'What we should look at is the maximum noise level, which is the sound heard when a helicopter flies above the residents,' he said. Mr Kam said an accurate estimate was necessary to assess the new helipad's impact on residents. The report estimates that there will be 34 night flights on the two helipads - more than double the current 16 - between 7pm and 11pm. Mr Kam said local residents would not be able to bear 34 flights above them between 7pm and 11pm - equivalent to a helicopter trip every seven to eight minutes - while they were trying to rest. The councillors also suggested the helicopters be replaced with machines having lower noise levels and restrict night flights. The Civil Aviation Department told the district council it would closely monitor the noise level of the new helipad. The maximum number of trips is 206 a day for the two proposed helipads, compared with 108 for the existing one.